I'll love you forever
I'll love you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be...
This morning, I spoke to a friend who pretty much announced that she was ending an almost 15 year old reunion. She is sending her son a letter that draws a line in the sand, and stating that the behavior that has been status quo in the relationship between them for the past decade and more is not acceptable. It never was, but the mother, fearful of losing what little she had, accepted behavior that would, if it came from one of the children she raised, ended in some tough talk or more. However, according to the common wisdom, adoptees must have control over the relationships in reunion, since they had little or no control over the circumstances that led to their adoptions.
Another friend, one who is reunited for 10 years, and had one of the 'better' reunions with her daughter, inadvertently said something on her blog, which resulted in a note from her daughter severing their relationship. She said nothing to her reunited daughter, but spoke only of her feelings about one aspect of adoption and the impact it had on HER life. That was the one thing too much that, at least for now, has caused an insurmountable rift in their relationship.
I know an adoptee whose 10 year reunion closed a while ago, because she went against her mother's wishes and introduced herself to her siblings. I am not sure why the mother didn't want it to happen, if she was still stuck in the shame, if there was a reason, or simply her paranoia. For whatever reason, it is apparently at a standstill....mother not speaking to the adoptee.
I know another mother, who was reunited with her son. The mother did everything for the young man, paying his education, his home, paid for his wedding, etc. She had never had other children, so when reunited, this one was the world to her. She even divorced her husband because of her son. Possibly she and her husband would have divorced anyway, but he definitely precipitated things. The mother and her adoptee have had an off-again-on-again kind of reunion, much like the rest, except that this mother about broke her arm doing her penance. She wore the responsibility for his loss like a hair shirt, and defied anyone to say that she wasn't responsible. She allowed all his bad behavior because he was the adoptee, and he felt abandoned. She made a misstep and her reunion, another 20 year one, also ended abruptly.
Next week will be the 20th anniversary of the reunion between my son and I. 20 years ago on September 7, 1990, while I was fixing dinner, the phone rang. I answered the phone and the woman on the other end, the social worker who handled Post Adoption Services at the Baby Fold, in Normal, IL called me to tell me that she had received a call from a young man that day, "looking for his mother." She remembered that I had also called that day to check, as I did on a regular basis, to see if there was any change, any interest, any updates in my file about my son. She put the two of us together, called and asked me if I still wanted contact, and five minutes later, I spoke to my son.
It has had its moment, both good ones and bad ones. I have been in his physical presence exactly one time in all these 20 years. I have made the 1000 mile trip, now, 4 times only to be stood up or to find him 'too busy to get away' after he encouraged me to come. I understand that he is afraid, overwhelmed by my nearness. I get that. The last time we spoke I reminded him that we have 20 years almost, and we haven't come very far in all those years. He said he knew that and sighed.
I am sure that there must be a normal relationship between reunited family members somewhere, but the ones I know are often not healthy relationships. I see mothers grieving online for their now adult 'children' and bemoaning the fact that, in order for them to continue the relationship, we accept crumbs.
If we are dealing with damaged inner children in our reunited children, then the inner child cannot be in charge. The inner child of our children is an infant, crying for their mothers, and need a strong hand and a mother with clear boundaries who will set them aright when they cross them. But, mothers don't do that. You cannot do that to another adult, even though the adult is our child.
As I spoke to my friend today, one of the most clear-eyed women it has ever been my pleasure to know, she said something that really, truly resonated with me. She said, "I have put up with awful behavior from him, that I would NEVER have accepted from my other children, because I was afraid. I was afraid of losing him. But, I already did." I did, too. I put up with my son's accusations, his pullbacks and other behaviors that would have put my raised children's noses into the corner, even grown up! I would NEVER have allowed the things from them that I did from him....because I was afraid of losing him, too, but the sad truth is...he's already gone. We already lost our babies. They can never, ever come back to us again.
How long is long enough to give to a one-sided relationship? Is 5 years enough? Is 10 years not quite enough? Do they need more time after 15 - 17? Is 20 years too much? Who knows? And, often times, who even cares? I guess I do, for now.
When my children were young, my favorite book to read them was Love You Forever. I loved the refrain in it, quoted above. Somehow, I could never, ever make it through the book without crying, so they didn't hear it often. But, I read it a lot. I hate adoption!
Happy Anniversary, Son. I love you...