Love You Forever

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...


Anonymous said...

Yet people wonder why those of us who've seen what family should be, hurt so very very much because we didn't get ours. Seems a perfectly logical reaction to me. *shrug*

Thank you for writing this; not sure I'm gonna risk the book though, I got choked up just reading this 'n' the WikiP page. :s

Robin said...

And the love is still there even after the plug is pulled. Oh, and mine is 17 years..not 10. But at some point, I had to refuse to continue paying the price, accepting the "little punishments" and dealing with the attempts to make me over to suit her agenda. I refuse to bow at the shrine of the adopters. I refuse to be a food source for an emotional vampire. She pulled the plug, but I am the one at peace.

Anonymous said...

Fear of loss can exist with our raised children as well as with the one surrendered, maybe as an emotional consequence of having surrendered a child.

One of my raised children got angry and did not speak to me or his father for a year. I was devastated and felt like now I had lost two children. He did come around, but I think I will forever walk on thin ice with him, as I do with my surrendered son.

I have not had to tolerate bad behavior from any of my children including the one I did not raise, so that is not the issue for me as it is for some. They are good people, but distant and reserved, all of them.

But there is always the fear of loss, also of saying the wrong thing, and it is there for all my kids. I struggle with this because it is not rational nor healthy to focus on what "might" happen instead of dealing with what is actually happening. When my kids were teens I was afraid of disciplining them for fear they would leave. They never said they would, this was all in my head.

Surrender affects different people in different ways. I love all my children forever too.

Lori said...

Well, at least I am not alone. I posted an entry on my blog that I am at that crossroads. I set boundaries over and over, only to be hammered on, charmed and ultimately crapped on yet again. After over 8 years, enough is enough...

There is a point where you have to say "No". My decision now is am I ready to say that one little word.

That is my favorite book. When I found it on a book list and read it, I bought and sent a copy to my sisters, who read it over and over to their children. I kept one copy with a great deal of hope.

Yesterday I gave my copy away.

Chris said...

I remember when I went to the one and only visit to the adoption agency...the agency woman asking me (at 17 yrs of age)what I had to offer to 'the baby', my baby, AFTER telling me the list of ALL a set of adoptive parents could offer 'the baby'...my baby. I had no job, I owned no home, I had no money this I already knew...my 17 yr old self answered the agency woman..."Love". She told me 'love' was not enough.
Fast forward 34 years...I searched and found and 11 yrs later in reunion...'love' is not enough now either. Reunion also takes more than love..is hard, hard work and it takes 2 people to be fully engaged and committed. No different than in marriage. A good marriage just does not happen miraculously with no work, without commitment, without communication, without trust and mutual respect..no way, no how. Reunion requires the same and like in marriage one or the other does give a little more, but no one party should be expected to give 90% and the other party 10% or less. A relationship that does not make. #1 There has to be regular, if not often communication. Can you imagine a good successful marriage where husband and wife only spoke to each other a few times a year? Yeah, right...what a grand marriage that would make. Same for reunion. Mother and adult child have to really talk things out, even if it gets a little heated, even if one or both cry, but still with respect, without accusations, blame and cruelty...and yes..with a measure of love and caring in our voices, from both sides. We have to be involved.
Reunion is not the Magic Elixir to fix the years of separation. And if any mother believes that...think again..same for the adult adoptee. It's hard work, not for the weak-willed, the feint of heart, it is not a place where one adult can believe they have all the control and the other adult has none. Adult relationships simply don't work that way. A balance has to be found, and that is no easy feat. I believe it is possible...but reunion is fraught with pain, with sadness and many times anger.It's not all joy, joy and happiness and 'as if' the surrender and the adoption never took place. It did and it left it's life-time scar/mark on both mother and now adult child. All one can do is try their level best..and if that isn't good enough..then decisions have to be made as to the next step...and as we all know is very, very difficult.
The separation of mother and baby is tragic...there are no ifs, ands or buts about that.

Robin said...

Sandy, I didn't say all I wanted to say. I couldn't at first. You really spoke not just the mind, but the heart of the mother. Thank you, dear friend.

*Peach* said...

This is my 20 year anniversary of reunion with my first families also. Your question ~ "How long do you deal with a one-sided relationship?" hit me, as well as "I'll Love You Forever".
20 years is a long time to ride a rollercoaster. But I will stay on, even with months between the stops and starts. It is hard. What I found is that one side of my family and I got closer after years of being closer to the other side...it switched, surprisingly. Now it is switching back. Holy crap.

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Anonymous said...

I love that book too. Tears have been commonplace in my family and I don't think anyone had a dry eye when we read that one.
"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." Thanks for putting words on that thought. Confusion about the adult child status was one of many stumbling blocks I had in reunion. It's been 20 years for me too and almost like I'm starting over, losing her again. It may just be my illusions about what "could be" that I am losing now. I lost my baby. I gained a traumatized young woman. I will love her forever, but the damages we've known preclude her receiving it. So I keep on, but from a distance.

Sandy Young said...

I feel as if we are the pathfinders in many things that relate to adoption. Having been in reunion for a long time, either bad or good, we know the pitfalls, and the traps into which we can land as well as the ones our children encounter. It is beneficial, I believe, for mothers and adoptees to work together, but it cannot be an enormity of pain thing, nor a blame and shame. It can only work when it is adult to adult and in that there is tremendous healing. Often it isn't even our own children that bring us the most, but another mother's child, since with them there is no excess baggage. I am great friends with many adoptees. However, I am not their mother.

We can learn from each other, but then it comes the time when it ceases to be theory and application must begin. That's the hard part, especially when only one side has been doing the healing.

I am sorry, I feel you, and I wish I could make things right for all of us, but I cannot. That sucks too.

jenny81271 said...

The love is always there, just not sure how much a mother should take, but then, I know with all my heart, that if my daughter EVER decides to do more than write her one letter, that I probably will put up with that and so much more. I sign my letters with ALWAYS, because five days before I had my daughter, I ran away from the home, and when it became painfully apparent that I must go back I sat down behind that dreadful place and promised her that I would ALWAYS LOVE HER....I do.....sometimes I wonder if that love will ever be returned.

Always, Jenny

parenting is an option said...

Oh, that is so sad and heart breaking. I have tried so hard to have a relationship with my mother but she replaced me with a cousin and a friend. She refuses to even call my children her grandchildren. I should have accepted as a child that she wanted nothing more to abandon me. She did so with family members left me with my grandparents and aunts and an evil girlfriend. Some people really need to grow up and stop thinking about themselves.

Children will always love their mothers and As a mother I will always love my children even when they tell me they rather move out with their dad than stay with me. Children can do very hurtful and hateful things to their mothers without even meaning to.

No you should not have to put up with bad behavior for 20 years, 15 years, 10 years, or 5years. But I do understand why you do. You love your child more than the world. I know my 5 year old knows how to put a knife in my heart. She is the only one of my children that hurts me so bad but I refuse to tell her how bad it hurts. I know it parential alienation on her part.

Maybe one day these people will grow up, with my mother I know she'll die before she ever grows up and I am working on accepting that. She had a choice she chose her wants which doesn't include me. All I am to her is money I was kept for child support and income tax refunds.

Sandy I wish you nothing but the best because that is all you deserve. - Allison

Amy said...

I am not in reunion with my natural mom. I would like to think that I would be kind and loving with her. With that being said, I am now on the side of a natural mother thanks to a corrupt judge, attorney, and ex husband. Although I still have joint custody, I am the non custodial parent. I feel coerced, lied to, and much more. Yes it still happens in this day and age.

Sadly because of this situation, I have been betrayed and lied to by my oldest daughter. Things are happening in their lives that are plain wrong. I can't do a dang thing about it. I have found myself backing away from her just to survive. I have no choice.