This is probably one of the hardest things I have ever written. Several times I wondered whether I should actually put the words down on paper and whether I should share them with the entire world. I decided to share because I think these feelings are important, I try to share honestly even when I think it may make others turn away. I wanted to share so that those who have had the same moments will know they aren’t the only ones. If I have learned anything in the many therapy sessions I have attended over the years is that feelings are feelings and no one gets to decide whether they are right or wrong..they just are. But I am a control freak (something I work on daily) I spend many hours justifying my thoughts and how they may or may not affect someone else. I think one of the biggest reasons I struggle with this particular subject though is because of what I do for a living. I spend all my waking hours supporting expectant-birth parents and educating adoptive parents on the importance of this relationship. It’s easy to get up on my soapbox and tell everyone else how they should react, or how they should feel. Not so easy to deal with my own feelings. So in the end I have decided to SHARE so that we can all recognize that no matter how ” politically correct” we want to be – we can have “slips” we can detour from what the therapists and professionals and bloggers and all other adoption related material says because we are human. In rereading this I think I may have just tried to justify this feeling but who cares it is who I am………
Our oldest son just returned from Ecuador after spending for the second time in his life a 3 week period with his birth mom. She is an American citizen living over there. This son just turned 21 and 2 days later, for the first time went on a trip , a trip abroad by himself, the week of Christmas. His first encounter with his birth mom was when he was 16. She contacted him on My Space without contacting us first. We have a great relationship with him and he immediately shared this. I had no problems with her contacting him, we had been trying for years to find her. (come to find out she was only an hour away!) My wish though is that she would have contacted us first, to find out if he was in a place emotionally to do this. Being the adoption professional that I was, I was excited and supported contact. Many things when on to happen in the next year..some not so good. In hind site I wish I had monitored things more closely and set boundaries for everyone’s sake. There were many positive things that came of out this time..of course our son was finally able to meet his birth mom and find out some answers about his biological family, he met aunts and cousins too. A lot of questions about who she was got answered for him. Even though we had spent time with His birth mom before he was born and could share some of that, it of course is never enough. Having been though this with my own children I fully support Open Adoption and ongoing relationships when it is appropriate (and safe). It also provided a lot of answers to some of his behavior. It also provided us with some medical history and an opportunity to seek treatment, which would be a blessing. So from that time age 17 to now 21 he has communicated with his birth mom over email from time to time.
We were able to Skype with him a few times while he was over there. He was having a good time but of course was feeling a little home sick. On the day he was supposed to be home, we got a call from him saying his flight was cancelled and he couldn’t get on another flight for 5 days! He was upset, tired and I could tell frazzled. This of course was making me a bit anxious and worried for several reasons…I wanted to hug him and tell him it was okay…i knew how much medication he had with him…..he was out of money……and we were leaving for a family vacation in just a week. Was he going to get home in time and what kind of shape emotionally was he going to be in when he got home. First things first we wanted to make sure he was safe, was his birth mom still with him and did he have a place to stay in the city for the next 4 nights. His birth mom wanted him to travel back to her home (6 hrs from airport) with her and return closer to date. Being in the city was very anxiety producing to her. He did not want to do this, she got upset and left. We spent the next few hours depositing funds into his bank account, communicating with a hotel in the area and securing his lodging. SO this is where the reason for my story comes in……when I asked about what happened between him and his birth mom, and what the circumstances of her leaving so abruptly were..he made this comment” She wanted me to go back home with her..I didn’t want to be that far from the airport..even P said – YOUR MOM is being unreasonable” There I said it out loud…while I was spending all of this effort and time in making sure he was safe, he called someone else his mom. Okay so how many of you are saying to yourself – what’s the big deal? She is his mom..I know that, but it hit me in the gut like nothing else. I’m used to people asking inappropriate comments or the forever question “where’s his REAL mom”. You don’t think you’ll ever get used to that question as an adoptive mom but you do. I have always known that no matter how many bandaids I apply, or how many tears I wipe away, or how many nights I have stayed awake hoping he is ok and worrying about whether I provided him with the right tools to become a good man, that he is not just mine. He is hers too. I have always known that , and I can stand in front of a group of people and talk for hours about the dynamics of adoption and what you have to be prepared for. But even with all that knowledge, even with all these years, even with all the families I have counseled….I don’t think I have the words to describe how that moment felt to me. I tried to talk to my husband about it, he tried to make me feel better, and he was right when he said..that our son has never questioned what my relationship is with him. Still….
So I share this just to confirm – we are all vulnerable, all of us. There are expectations about what relationships should be like in adoption, but when it comes down to it, we are people. We all have our own feelings. We know how we are supposed to feel, what happens when it doesn’t happen the way the book says it supposed to happen? Does it make it wrong? I know my son loves me, and I know he loves his birth mom and I love that he is able to love both of us.