Mother Bother

ipad-art-wide-mater-hospital-420x0Way back in the 1970’s when mother blaming was in vogue and I was not yet a mother and had not yet found my mother, I vowed never to be involved in mother blaming and to examine carefully any situations in which mothers were blamed or made responsible. Nothing has tested this more than the events of the last few years leading up to the Apology by our Federal Government and the Apologies by our State Governments. No matter the resolve, some things are unacceptable and wrong. There is no acceptable excuse for bullying, for lies, myths and deliberately misleading information. My ongoing involvement with the adoption community has enabled me to see at first hand the things mothers subject adoptees to. How often we try to make clear that we understand there has been trauma, that we are not being critical or lacking in compassion, but that there are some things that are just not acceptable. Of course it takes courage to change, to come from a place of intense hurt and pain and to be able to confront the past and to build a new future. I watched my own mother struggle; already so much damage had been done by adoption, including secondary infertility and she did the best she could. Her enormous relief at finding me and of knowing that she was a Grandmother seemed considerable balm for her soul, but nothing could ever fix the damage done by attitudes, the mores of the time and the forcing of adoption, the only option for a woman in her situation then, carried out with precision and razor-sharp intention to punish and deter.
I see my fellow adoptees hurting, smarting from the latest round of guilting, assumption and expectation from mothers that they can say and do what they like to the people they made adoptees so many years ago. It seems that some of the mothers blame the adoptees for changing their lives – a way of refusing to take responsibility for their actions. Of course there are situations in which abuse, rape, incest have played a part and we know that a tiny group of mothers have nominated rape rather than admit they have had a sexual relationship or even a one-off experience from which pregnancy resulted. Religious beliefs have often played a part as they so often do in this and in other difficult life changing situations. Some mothers wish to maintain this illusion into their mature years and juggle a relationship with their current family with some semblance of a relationship with the first child they made an adoptee. This sometimes requires the adoptee’s complicit acceptance of a lie or lies, the requirement that they remain secret, hidden and unknown to other relatives. The hurt to people already struggling with identity, self-esteem and self-knowledge is heart-breaking. When adoptees refuse to comply, will no longer be involved and begin to value themselves more than they do a few crumbs from the table, healing is happening. Sometimes a better relationship evolves, mostly not, but the adoptee at least has integrity and self-worth from having acted in the best interests of his/her family circle, often including young children for whom the responsibility in my book always, always, come first. Tragically, it so often seems there is no place for us at the table in our family of birth, especially if they didn’t know about us and we appear out of nowhere as I did, by then well into my 60’s and with no proof of connection. They have lived this long without us and it takes an exceptional family to make room, to acknowledge and accept us and if we’re lucky to love us or at any rate care about us. Perhaps too we need to be able to balance ‘needy’ and the desperate wanting to know our biological family with humour, interest, caring, enthusiasm for their stories and openness to whatever happens. So often it seems we have waited all our lives and our needs become paramount, all absorbing, all important and all consuming. We can lose our perspective, lose our way, lose our joy and sometimes lose our minds!

6 thoughts on “Mother Bother

  1. Reblogged this on lara and commented:
    When adoptees refuse to comply, will no longer be involved and begin to value themselves more than they do a few crumbs from the table, healing is happening. (Indeed it is)

    (I’ll be posting more soon)

    • I don’t know you Becky. My intentions in writing this blog are to explore adoption, the effects of adoption and the understandings we reach as adoptees. I learn from my fellow adoptees and I try to look at the overall picture of what adoption does to us. My concern is primarily for adoptees. I write for adoptees.To be honest and truthful is my way and I rarely censor or alter what I have put down. There is so much dishonesty, deception and lying in adoption. Each group of people affected by adoption must find ways to care for themselves and each other if they wish to deal with adoption and how it has affected their lives. Feeling 18 years old again is very uncomfortable for many of us and I hope you find a way to deal with those feelings of being alone, afraid, ashamed and guilty. For many adoptees most ages in our lives are difficult to live through and unpleasant or painful to recall. If we don’t try to face up to it we remain victims and don’t become survivors. Good wishes to you and I hope you find the courage to keep coming here. It’s often tough and confronting, challenging and difficult.

      • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I should have indicated that I am a mother of loss to adoption and not an adoptee. I am in reunion gone silent with my 44 year old daughter.
        I read blogs such as yours in an attempt to educate myself and to understand the feelings of adoptees. Often I go away only feeling that I have been flogged again. Although I can’t put my finger on what exactly pushed my buttons, this blog brought out those feelings in me that never go away.

        • Thank you for returning Becky. I had guessed you are a mother-of-loss and not a recent one. I checked your profile and discovered your age. Reunion is very tricky with so many ‘issues’ for us all. I read Evelyn Robinson’s books on reunion (Clova Publications) available on Amazon now. She explores some of the many facets and I thought it quite helpful. I’d be very interested to know what the views of a mother are, perhaps you have read them? It seems so many of us just keep on with the attempts to educate ourselves because it never seems to end – the need to know, to learn and to understand. It doesn’t take away the triggers, but might make them easier to deal with. That feeling of having been flogged is so familiar to adoptees. We get it from all quarters for the things we do, don’t do, say, think and the way we live our lives or rather the way others think we live our lives. It is often tough going and those mothers and adoptees who blog or are activists in other ways, often have to take breaks to regain their equilibrium. When we feel our buttons have been pushed it’s sometimes useful to examine exactly the words, phrases or sentences involved and try to draw some conclusions. For many adoptees it might be indications of the primal wound, for mothers maybe the deep wound left by adoption. Such an oversimplification is hardly useful but you have had 44 years to think about it and to live with the feelings. I dare say it doesn’t get easier, just more familiar. You’re a brave woman to keep working at it, I hope it is paying off for you.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s