my need

I haven’t written anything in a while…it seems I’ve written what needed to be written.

At my local adoption support group, one of the things that’s been asked to birthmothers is, keeping expectations to the minimum because a relationship cannot be forced, what is the one thing that you need in order to recover if your child does choose not to have an active relationship with you?  What is the one thing that will satisfy you and help you move on?  For some, it is hearing her child’s voice.  For others, it is just knowing he/she is okay.  For some, it is seeing her child’s face, looking into his/her eyes.

This question was posed well over a year ago, and I didn’t really know my answer.  But I’d come to realize I was over-thinking it.  The answer was there all along.  I have written and re-written letters to my son since he was days into my relinquishment and have discarded hundreds if not thousands.  In every letter, there has been one consistency.  It has been imperative to me from day one that somehow, some way, I communicate to my son that he was wanted, that his going to live with his adoptive parents was not in any way, shape, or form a reflection on my desire to have him, to raise him, to be his mother, to have him as my child.  Long before I could admit it, underneath it all, I knew it was wrong.  I completely ignored my heart of hearts because I had been betrayed nearly every time I’d ever followed my heart – or so it had seemed at the time.  So I pushed so-called logic and reason and rationalization to the forefront, completely pushing out what was in my heart.  I’ll pay for it the rest of my life, no doubt.

So, here we are back to what my original intent was when I started this post, why I haven’t written.  I made a decision concerning my son.  I had taken in all of the advice not to “go there” with the emotional stuff knowing full well my child may not be emotionally equipped to assimilate or deal with the information.  What would it take for me to be able to move on should my son ultimately choose not to maintain – or even start – a relationship with me?  The one thing that could help me move on from such a devastating decision is at least getting the chance to tell him he was wanted.

So…I did.  Just that.  I told him.  I told him knowing full-well I am a total stranger to him.  I told him knowing full well he does not come from a place of being able to relate.  I told him fully aware it may mean absolutely nothing to him.  I told him knowing it was completely selfish on my part, that it was for 100% for me and for no one else but me.  I told him in the least savory way possible (unsavory way to me, anyway: it was in a facebook message, ughhh…but…it’s the means I had, and so I decided to work within those means).  The bottom line is, I told him.

And that seems to have done it – whatever this “it” is.  I still have moments when I am angry and have nowhere to go but to myself.  I still have days when it sucker punches me and knocks me to my knees.  I still have days when I weep.  But…I’m able to move on and able to accept that he may decide to contact me – and he may not.  As a result of a completely selfish act, doing something for me where he is concerned, should he ultimately decide that he wants nothing to do with me, I can move on with my life – as much as it is possible to move on from adoption relinquishment.  I accept that there is no truly moving on, so I say I’m moving on in a relative sense.  In other words, it is no longer consuming my days and my nights.  I am learning to operate within the parameters of this, my new normal.  Time will tell if this is a good thing or a destructive thing, as time inevitably does.


7 thoughts on “my need

  1. This all reminds me some of a book I read that really changed my life. It’s called “The Search for Significance”. The power of acceptance is something we can’t understate. I admire your drive to let your son know he’s just that. Courage and grace to you my friend.

  2. congratulations on taking such a huge step towards healing yourself. i am glad you told him, even if, as you said, that information scares him away or he doesn’t understand it. you are a strong lady. lots of hugs and love. ❤

  3. Thank you, Ariel. I gave it the test of time before telling anyone (except my husband, of course) just to see how it felt days, then weeks later. And, even after the passage of a little bit of time, I’m glad too. Thanks for the love and hugs…Much of the same to you. 🙂

  4. I would argue that what you did was not 100% selfish: in fact, your child will benefit (if not now, eventually) from knowing that he was not “unwanted” by you. I am the adoptive mom of two young boys (they have the same birth mother), and I believe it is absolutely essential that they know that they were not placed for adoption because they weren’t wanted. In fact, we have a very open adoption arrangement (though she lives in another state), and I’ve pursued that in part because I don’t want my sons to grow up wondering about where they came from, who their birth mom is, and, esp., why she relinquished custody of them. (The other reason for the open adoption is that I don’t want her to live the rest of her life wondering about them–I’m hoping that her journey will be made easier having regular contact with them. I lost a child to cancer six years ago, and so I am very sensitive to the loss felt by a birth mother. I have ethical qualms about adoption because of its impact on the birth parents, and this is the only way I could do it.)

    • Abby, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that you are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to how adoptive parents feel about their child’s birth mother. I received updates regarding my son with pictures yearly but did not get to have personal contact. It didn’t take long for me to regret not pushing for it – or perhaps even seeking out parents who would have been open to contact. In fact, when my son was 9 I couldn’t take it anymore and wrote to the parents letting them know I regretted having cut myself completely out of his life and requested some form of personal contact with him. They were kind about it but declined. It haunts me thinking about all the nights alone in his room with his head on his pillow wondering why I gave him up and all the questions he must’ve had. I’m sorry I did that to him. Not that he doesn’t love his adoptive parents. I know they are good people, and he does love them and will always identify them as his parents and will always need them in that parental sense. But it seems an unnecessary torment that he shouldn’t have had to grapple with at such a young age.

      At least, that was back when I still believed that I did the right thing by choosing adoption in the first place. I kept telling myself that it was the absolute right thing in order to survive it. And even though I know there were advantages for him in terms of the stability of a 2-parent home and all the support he got growing up, I can’t exactly say that 100% that it was the right option now….

      I realize there are situations where adoption will always be necessary. Most of the time, though, adoption seems to be a permanent option to a temporary problem – and in some respects an interruption – especially in the case where the children do not get to know. I have wondered if it does ease that tension considerably when kids get to grow up knowing the people they come from. I cannot say enough how much I admire your willingness to give your kids that.

  5. This is an amazing post, truthful, open, honest and holding yourself accountable. I hope, truly hope that your son will emerge just a tiny bit from his cozy adoption fog to see, to understand, to take to heart what you’ve said. It may be very painful for him: that you DID want him, but your relinquished anyway. But, I hope that he’ll realize down the road that the truth is better than not knowing, or a lie. Thank you for sharing this, it is truly eye-opening for me.

    • Laura, I admit that, in the back of my mind since making the decision to give him this information is the thought that, though it may be meaningless to him now, or it may make him angry, or saddened, and/or it may elicit all kinds of emotional responses that may be hard for him to deal with now, there is the thing that none of us has a guarantee of our next breath. I do not know how long I will be here. And should he decide not to contact me before my passage, he’ll at least have that from me. It’s just one of those things I could not leave undone.

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