Skip to content

Finding Courage to Share 20 Years Into Reunion

November 8, 2015

October 9th was my 20-year anniversary since I first spoke to my birth mother by telephone. My search was short and quick (about two months) thanks to open adoption records in Alberta, Canada. Many emotions erupted from within me, like a dam bursting, the first time I heard my birth mother’s voice. That night has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

My reunion, as many adoptee reunions are, has been an emotional roller coaster. At times, I felt very connected to my birth mother, like two magnets drawn to each other. However, if one magnet is turned around, the magnets will be repelled from each other. Unfortunately, my adoption reunion has been like that. Feeling connected one moment and then something happens where the dynamics between my birth mother and I are such that we don’t have contact for weeks, months, or even years.

This dynamic has been my adoption reunion reality. I’ve spent about half of my reunion time in therapy, private counseling, and being involved with my local adoption support group “Adoption Knowledge Affiliates” or AKA for short. I went into therapy to find myself, to process emotions and feelings, and to learn to grow as a person. Much of my life I’ve spent living in fear of making decisions. Decisions about my career, who I was supposed to be according to what I thought I was expected to be.

My birth mother used to criticize me for her perceptions on my inabilities to be decisive. She would claim I couldn’t make a decision without getting my adoptive mother’s approval or consulting with her first. She would call me “needy” or call me a “liar” if I claim I could not remember a conversation that allegedly happened. I say allegedly because some things she spoke about did not happen.

I began to step back and look at the reality of my relationship with my birth mother. After taking off the rose colored glasses and my pointless efforts of trying to fix our relationship, I began to see what other people clearly saw. I read more on adoption for my own understanding of what may be going on between my birth mother and me.

My journey of growing and understanding our reunion has not been easy. In my fantasy world, I considered my birth mother to be loving and supportive (and at times she was and can be). The flip side to this side has not been easy to accept or deal with.

After reading about the current situation between Rosie O’Donnell and her adopted daughter Chelsea, I can sadly relate to the nasty texts and unloving messages Rosie has sent to Chelsea. And sadly, over the years, I have reacted in ways I am not proud of either.

Last month on our 20 year reunion anniversary, I sent my birth mother a message via Facebook to acknowledge our 20 year milestone. It was Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada that weekend and so I wished her a Happy Thanksgiving as well.

She replied later that evening but I knew from past experience that I should not read it until the morning. Just in case something triggering could be in her message.

Sure enough, my instincts were correct. She acknowledged our anniversary and the birth of my grandson in September. However, she did express that I should have considered “other people’s feelings”  when I posted on MY Facebook wall this summer when I shared pictures of my reunion with my paternal birth family.

The last several years my birth mother has expressed that she was “so over adoption” and that she didn’t want to be identified as a birth mother anymore. I’m not sure what brought her to that place in her journey, but I thought I had respected her wishes. I did not post any pics of her or mention her in any Facebook posts while I reunited with my paternal family.

However, for whatever reason, she seemed to make MY reunion all about her and her feelings (again). Maybe she was upset I didn’t contact her while I was up there. My trip was primarily to spend time with my son,  my grandmother and hopefully meet my paternal birth family. My trip was not about her, but about me finding my biological roots and meeting the other side of my family.

I could see her point of feeling I ignored her when I was up in Canada. However, she had wanted to ask me to remove the photos of my reunion with my paternal family because of how “other’s felt” or more likely, how “she” felt about those photos.

Again, I felt a deep sense of repression and invalidation of my feelings. Her message also said she was happy for me to be able to meet my paternal family. But it seems to me she wanted me to keep my reunion hush-hush behind closed doors. Sorry but that does not work for me. It does not work for the Millions of adoptees who have had to be good, compliant, and silenced for decades about speaking their truth or my truth. I came out from the fog of adoption several years ago and I will not go back.

To show signs of my growth in my adoption reunion journey, I took a few days to respond to my birth mother. Normally I would have likely flown off the handle and reacted to her in a rage of anger, wanting to defend myself. I still defended myself in my reply, but it was well thought out about what I wanted and more importantly, needed to take care of myself.

I don’t hate my birth mother. I have never blamed her for my issues regarding being adopted. I did tell her one time that I had challenges being adopted and I don’t think she wanted to hear that. I know I was spared from likely abuse on both sides of my family and for that I am truly grateful. However, I am not grateful for all the years of being a kept secret or not being able to grow up with my siblings, mainly my brothers, both maternal and paternal. Those years can never be reclaimed and I accept that is the starting point of my relationship with my biological families.

The thing people do not realize is that despite what was thought of as “best for adoptees” either newborns or those in foster care, we did not have a say in what we wanted or what was best for us. As adult adoptees, we do have a say in what we feel is best for us.

We have a right to our past. We have a right to speak our truth and share how we feel. We have the right to be open about our journey and not edit ourselves just to appease others anymore. Many of us grew up thinking we had to “earn our approval” with our adoptive families. Chasing that unobtainable goal or level of acceptance is a squirrel cage.

As in any relationship, if one person is not willing to listen or grow, then it can become toxic.It’s painful and so difficult to let go of a relationship that you want it to “work out.” But sometimes it’s too painful to stay.

Here is a phrase I use from some advice my old therapist used to tell me.

“The well is dry.

It is time to say goodbye.”

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: