Monday, June 26, 2006

Why Do We Cut Off From Each Other?

“There are very few human beings who receive the truth,
complete and staggering by instant illumination.
Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a
small scale, by successive developments,
cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.”
~Anais Nin
Lately I’ve had time to browse through After the Search and Chosen Babies triad online forums and listen to what adoptees and first mothers are pondering, struggling with, and searching for in their experiences in the arena of adoption. First mothers are always intriguing to me as it is a real opportunity to hear them speak and to share their issues as it sheds light on what my first mother must have struggle through. What I hear again and again from both adoptees and first mothers is the pain that comes when an adoptee cuts off contact or a first mother cuts off contact. In one of the online forums a first mother shares her deep concern in regards to her first child shutting her out after months of what felt like a happy and connecting reunion. The following is my response to her not understanding why her child would make this choice.

Gosh, I just have to respond to this. I am an adoptee and I, too, limited contact with my first mother after contact for about 8 months. I empathize with how difficult giving up a child is and the long term grief and loss that accompanies it. I think that I can empathize because I experienced the other end of that loss. They are different experiences however. As an adult or adolescence giving up a child comes with having developed cognition and social experiences as an adult or young adult. You have a base line of identity and self development that an adoptee lacks when it comes to dealing with the grief and loss from the separation of mother and child. Cutting off communication on both sides is common in the reunification process. What I also hear often is black and white thinking on both sides. It's all or nothing many times. I believe this is why so many professionals recommend preparation for this reunion experience. Why would anyone going through this expect that it would be easy, think that it would go smoothly, or expect those involved not to have huge issues to deal with; which by the way we all do differently. The adoptees need to turn inward or to cut off communication is a way of reclaiming power once again in their lives. It is done in the way it is done often; without communications or finesse because the experience for adoptees most often is a preverbal experience; which leads the adoptee to have periods of overwhelming and confusing emotions around these issues. It is also totally blanketed in survival issues. It is base in this way. For adoptees our survival came into play and we questioned our very existence and the physical and emotional stability and trust of our experience. Some compare the separation of child from mother for the infant as a sense of falling into an abyss with no ground under their feet, no world to hold them safely. So, it confuses me when first mothers demand so much from them when adoptees turn inward and take back their own power and control from this situation. Adoptees need to emotionally sever ties often in order to gain a sense of control and safety around these experiences with their “lost mother”. Often first mothers internalize this turning away as a personal affront, as if the adoptee is so one dimensional that they suddenly don't love them any more. It is not this simple; how I wish that it was as this would have made my life tremendously easier. I love my first mother and father like NOTHING else in this world. In fact, I am baffled by this very thing in my life. I was adopted when I was five, was removed by the state for neglect and abuse, and then I was adopted. I have many reasons to dislike my first mother, but these things and memories and deep wounds do not negate the eternal love and connection that I organically have for my first parents. Perhaps it is these very feelings that make processing what reunion and first mothers mean to us that makes us turn inward and away until we figure it out. It is not a swift process. We as adoptees need to rebuild or build for the first time after reunification a solid sense of self. In this process we learn to incorporate our first families along with our adopted families in new ways. Our loyalty and risk of abandonment from our adopted families lies prominently in the picture and the risk of challenging this family connection is real when embracing or coming to terms with how to embrace both sets of parents without hurting or threatening anyone involved. It is a precarious load for the adoptee; to keep themselves safe, to preserve the connection with their adopted family, and to become brave and courageous enough to embrace our own overwhelming feelings of love and risk for our first parents while trying to integrate our new sense of self with all of the life perspective changing information coming to us. For first mothers it is reconnecting with the past, a past self, a great loss of a child, integrating this truth into their current adult life...risking being honest and being courageous enough to live with the consequences of honesty in their lives, these are huge, but they don't address survival issues in the same way that adoptees feel it. I believe that these core survival issues and emotions and the other pieces of the process demand that the adoptee pull back and/or pull inward to make meaning and to regain control of their sense of safety and survival. I think first parents would help so much if they could recognize the pulling back as a survival and integration process and that it is natural and organic in this process of reunification instead of being mad at them, or giving up, or taking it as a personal affront. It isn't meant that way. Adoptees, too, have had to live with the loss of their mothers This is the greatest loss that makes for a life of self doubting and fear. Let us have our fear as we have let you have a life without us. Don't pull away in anger and self doubt. Find your motherly strength to not take it personally and prepare yourself to have limits in healthy ways that opens doors for love, support, and healing for yourself and for your child.



Blogger momseekingpeace said...

I aprriciated reading this, as a mother who as gone thru the pulling back stages and understanding that he needed to go thru it but not "really" knowing the why's , just trying to understand the need to, this helps to hear from an adopted person what it may be that he has gone through.

I think bieng scared is a reaction, I also know that having my son say, Its all so emotional and I need to take a break was very helpful, when it just all of a sudden gets cut off, its easy to have those feelings of rejection or fear that we did something wrong.

I have always felt that my experience was different than his in that I was at an age where I could remember what happened.

I realize that we all have pain coming from different places and the we have to negotiate different things in reuinion.


11:11 AM  
Blogger dana1968 said...

Hello, I stumbled onto your blog and can relate to the story. My birthdaughter and I recently reunited over the internet. It has been just wonderful! She is only 16 and I can't help but wonder if this is too soon. The joy is enormous and the emotions overflow. I'm trying hard to be conscious of her and her Mother's needs. It has been overwhelming for me but I can imagine how this has effected her and the rest of her family. Every story is different but the bottom line is the needs of the child come first. That is the promise you make when you are a birthmother. The emotions and issues which surface with reunion are vast and difficult to walk through. You don't know what is too much or too little. Every minute you spend together feels like borrowed time.
Then trying to combine the two lives-your family now and your birthchild-is really a challenge. All this said, my birthdaughter has the greatest challenges. Someday I may have to let her go again and I accept that. I hope your reunion is a positive one and continues on.

9:15 PM  

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