Thanks to FaceBook for the following exchange below and the revelations, nothing new here, but very familiar, very triggering and for some the end of patience. Some adoptees say they’ve had enough of this stuff, although they put it a lot less politely than that and who is to blame them! We do have to remember that it all comes in waves, we just get it all said and then another wave of mothers and non-adoptees come through, so we start from the baseline yet again. Wouldn’t it be good if mothers educated themselves and then educated each other, so that they could avoid so much pain, rejection and the failure of reunion, because they didn’t do the work, read the books, learn the hard stuff that just might get them over the line? I have often seen it written and suggested, hinted at, that they don’t really believe they should have to, that somehow they suffered enough and are now entitled to a free ride, that we should do all the hard stuff and stop trying to call the shots. It must be remembered that we are adults, often with young families, careers to juggle as well as our ‘adoption stuff’ which can be all consuming at times. No-one would suggest this is a ‘pain war’ because there is no competition in suffering and we must all deal with what we have. So often the trauma, loss and pain is not dealt with. Maybe a therapist is found, one session undertaken and left, because it wasn’t a good fit. You sometimes have to try on a few, which the very same mothers wouldn’t hesitate to do if therapists were shoes. How good it would be if they were, but that’s a whole other area of therapy! Some believe they can’t afford it, without looking at the alternatives and investigating the possibilities. Some believe they don’t need it, some believe it’s bunkum. I’m not interested in preaching to those who could be doing their own research, finding their own solutions and making the very best attempts at reunion if they wanted to, had the courage and the motivation. Yes, I know it’s hard, adoptees go there every day. We start from a point of pre-verbal memories, profound loss and complex grief and trauma. We often lose our motherland, our language, our culture, religion, and everything that is familiar. The terror, fear and loss is unimaginable – no mother goes through that, nor does she go through adoption trauma until she reaches an age when she is at least a teen.
It is such a sad thing, when mothers let us know that this is not ‘their first rodeo’ and yet indicate by their comments that they really do not understand adoption or adoptees, the basic effects of adoption and what we live with. And why should they? It is so often that when we do explore those areas, we are said to be ‘whingeing’, whining or as one well-known Origins supporter, now ejected from Origins, put it, ‘wallowing in misery’! We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t! Which is why we so often create adoptees only groups, in which we can discuss our feelings, experiences and so on, without judgement, criticism, ridicule, misunderstanding and patronisation or is that patronage?
There is something here too, about the hierarchy of age; it is sometimes assumed that mothers are older than adoptees and have less life experience. In reality some of us are at least twice as old as some mothers, maybe older! Mothers seem to expect deference and while it is not unreasonable to expect courtesy, respect and if they’re lucky, empathy and compassion, they will never get deference from this blogger, except in very special circumstances – those mothers are respectful, willing to learn, courteous, non-confronting and genuine. You know who you are and I love you all! I respect you greatly, have learned much from you and am always willing to listen, take on board what you say and value your friendship.
“One of the most painful things adoptees need to do to forge meaning and build identity is to divorce ourselves from the plight of our natural mothers. We can empathise with them support them and love them but until we adoptees as a collective and individually cease allowing ourselves to be captured by their pain and understandable anguish we will never be in a position of being independent with our own identity. Their pain is not our pain, ours pain is not theirs. it is a bit like the fact that Australia can never be truly independent whilst we have a British Royal Family of german descent as a head of state. Having a Australian head of state will become self empowering whilst still respecting the heritage we have. The same for we adoptees in Australia. Respect the naturals mothers heritage but forge our own meaning and identity.” – Murray Legro
1st comment from A Mother – “There are bigger issues if your (sic) letting someone define you.
I agree, be empathetic, and be compassionate towards every human being.
Btw- I wish it were easy to divorce yourself from any harmful effects of life.
I found divorce means cutting someone out of your life.”
Then – “I know that I probably opened a whole can of worms with that comment. I speak from experience….I have bigger issues.
I guess it makes me sad because my son has in a sense divorced me because he can’t condone me feeling sorry that I relinquished him. So, I ask myself, “Am I too painful for him?” But to conform to his wants I have to deny a part of my experience that he doesn’t condone.
Trust me…I want to move forward and don’t want to be toxic. I think my mere existence is his pain.”
Yep, sometimes we do have to cut people out of our lives because they are too harmful to us, sometimes we can just step back and remove ourselves from their sphere of influence. We cannot heal the pain of others nor should we ever believe they can heal our pain. We do need to choose our words carefully, to try not to trigger others, be punitive, let our anger leak, our resentments show and so on…..
I guess nothing can be bigger than identity issues, pretty basic really and being dismissed so perfunctorily is rude, triggering and not conducive to a good discussion! Most adoptees have quite a pain load to deal with, they can’t carry, nor should be expected to carry, anything for the mother. She must manage and deal with her own pain. Reunion does not heal pain, it often makes it worse. Yes, often the mere existence of our mothers is a pain, the source of our pain, of course, and their presence in our lives with their assumptions, demands, passive-aggression, rejections and games playing, can all be far too much for us to want to keep them in our lives. They often come into our lives with all the difficulties they had when they got pregnant and have done nothing to move forward; sometimes they are in denial, want secrets kept, deny our existence, refuse to acknowledge us, meet us or give us information about our fathers. Sometimes they keep this unhealthy situation rolling forward for years, decades even, until the adoptee has had enough, discovered it is not worth the angst, the heart-break, the unfulfilling connection and not having a relationship on an equal adult footing. We’re mostly not keen of being told how to live either, being given advice on how it should be, how we should deal with adoption and our adoption experience. Most of us are mature adults by the time we get to discussing it, finding our voices and although we don’t know everything, who does? we certainly know how to live the adopted life, often very successfully.
Yes, we sometimes refuse to continue, see it as healthy, divorces often are! When we adoptees answer with honesty and directly, with no BS, we find a response which is all hurt feelings and wounded ‘poor-me’, the default position. You want us to lie to you? There have been too many lies in adoption, too many lies in the lives of most adoptees why would we want to continue that? If you can’t take the heat don’t come near the kitchen.