August 9, 2008

### 3 Stings & You're OUT! ###

Bee on a pink flower 2
© Photographer: Achilles | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Isn't it wonderful to finally cross through the darkness, deal with deep, hidden issues, and gain the ability to look back and have some acceptance, closure, perspective, and even humor at the very pain that used to be unacknowledged, yet caused a strange, numb inability to function?

I'm finally able to recognize STUPID, "innocent" remarks & beliefs (regarding adoption) that people spew so easily. Adopted people must spend a LIFETIME stuffing and trying (somehow) to justify them. I realize now, that deep inside some comments would make me cringe, but I dutifully learned to ignore my feelings and voice for so long, that I somehow ended up feeling like something was wrong with me for not being totally comfortable when hearing them. For EXAMPLE, yesterday my a-Mom was here for awhile & within a two-hour period, I tolerated SEVERAL hurtful remarks. But THIS TIME I was thinking, "great blog material" as I laughed to myself...here are a few.

Baby girl - bee
© Photographer: Matka_wariatka | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Just a little background: For as long as I can remember, my Mom has been obsessed with babies. Literally. When we are in a store (any store), EVERY SINGLE TIME, her radar finds a baby in a stroller, approaches, and begins a "baby talk" conversation with it. It usually goes something like this (condensed version), "You're sure a cutie. Would you like to go home with me? You think your Mommy would let you come home with me? What do you think about that? Oh, I bet she wouldn't let us get very far, would she? She must be so proud to have such a cute, well-mannered little boy/girl."

Holy Crap. Just writing it out makes me shudder. Is that not a (guilt-ridden, child-greedy, infertile adopter's) Freudian slip of the tongue, or WHAT? Amazing. I have learned to just immediately walk off when I see this begin to play out. But, oh the joy! lol When my son was born, one of the first things my Mom said to me was, "you know he's not just yours, don't you? You have to share." She followed that lovely statement up with months & months of immediately asking, "And how's MY baby today?" As he grew older it morphed into her asking him directly, "Are you Grandma's boy? Or Mama's boy? Huh? Huh?" expecting a pre-talker to answer or something...

I'm not trying to put my Mom down. These type of statements bring me sadness, anger, the works. But they bring pity and sympathy too. It is hard to see her like that, so obvious that she is having a hard time with not having her own biological children. Even in her 70's ~ it shows. And it irritates and saddens and doesn't do anything positive for our relationship. It got more pronounced after I had my child. Like I was getting to experience something she never did, and I almost feel bad about that...but not enough to beat myself up about. Because I'm so thankful I have my son and the blessing of finally having my first "normal" relationship with my very own blood relative. It is like heaven.

Annoyed bee
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Back to yesterday. Mom was talking about an old friend she ran into who was telling her about her grandchildren. She said that the woman's daughter and her husband had nine, yes 9, children. So my Mom's friend was bragging about that fact ~ of having so many grand kids. But here's the kicker ~ quote, "she said four of them are 'their own', and 5 are adopted". Oh really? That's interesting. That the distinction was made. "Their own", versus "adopted." (There IS a difference, no matter how many people try to argue against it.) I'm actually PROUD of her for being honest, but couldn't help but feel a little STING of pain in my heart to hear it.

Boom, there was #1 Sting. Adoptees get used to living with these little "stings" from day one. They come from EVERYWHERE, because ADOPTION talk is everywhere. We aren't supposed to let it bother us, of course, because we are the CHOSEN ones. We are making some family SO happy, so we quickly fall into place and fill the role ~ at the expense of our own inner congruence. No grief ~ no questions ~ just celebration. By God, we are LUCKY, don't we know that?

Angry bee
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Well, then Mom goes on talking about another family friend. This friend has several young-adult grandchildren and (quote) ~ "another one had a baby ~ all but one of her grand-daughters have had illegitimate children", with her usual "matter of fact" style, oozing with disapproving judgement. Hence, Sting #2. I had to bite my tongue on that one. Instead of saying what I really felt like saying, I just quietly said, "well, maybe that is what they WANT to do ~ have children." And she wonders why I am so quiet usually.

I truly believe Mom is so judgemental about young women having babies, because she was unsuccessful at having one herself, and never really dealt with it, so she projects a lot of judgement on others around her. (Instead of looking inside, at her own pain and focusing on her own inner healing.) So many of us grew up with parents like this that we have a lot of "waking up" to do personally so we don't follow in the same path. I realize that "hurting people, hurt people" and my heart goes out to my Mom and breaks for her. She has gone through a lot in her life, including health issues & cancer (which required harsh, experimental treatments) & numerous surgeries several years ago. (I'm so thankful for God's mercy which brought healing to her ~ all of us).

One of Mom's friend's other grand-daughters (April) is, sadly, in prison. (She, interestingly enough, lost her own mother in a tragic accident, when she was just a baby and was raised by her step-father). April is in her 20's, had 2 daughters, and was living with the father of her second baby, when he, sadly, shook the baby and damaged her brain. April (of course) lost custody of both her daughters and is STILL serving a prison sentence for allowing this abuse to occur. I am not sure, but am thinking the father of the child may already be out of jail. This young woman LOVED her babies very much. She made a life-altering decision to temporarily tolerate an abusive partner, and sadly, lost her children forever. Her daughter also lost their mother, forever.

They were adopted by another couple, and her grandmother (my Mom's friend) gets regular updates about them. (I guess it is considered a semi-open adoption). My Mom was talking about April (the young mother, in prison ~ and by the way, I know she sounds like a monster or something, to let her child be abused. It was, unfortunately, more due to her being naive, a lack of self-esteem and not knowing how to keep herself & her kids safe, in the presence of an abusive man who she hadn't even known very long.

Mom snidely remarked that April would remain in prison for several more years, but her grandmother THINKS the couple who adopted the children are going to allow visitation rights to the grandmother, but NOT THE MOTHER. My Mom then added, (Sting #3), "it's only right, you know ~ why mess up their little lives. They probably won't even remember her, they were so young anyway." I sat there (yet again) speechless.

Who cares if they cognitively remember their Mother or not. They will need healing regarding these tragic events which led to forever separation from her, regardless. It brought such sadness, distress and anger to hear a total disregard for their pain in losing their mother ~ like their lives are totally "fixed" by their new family.

It has gotten harder to let "innocent" statements & beliefs just fly over my head, push down the feelings, and ignore the inner-sirens going off, when hearing such ridiculous comments about adoption. Especially from my own family, which is actually something I should be (and used to be) accustomed to. I truly don't think my Mom "gets it" and, therefore, is not intentionally trying to hurt me. I've heard the same type of remarks from even my first family (who I'm reunited with), as well as friends and people I don't even know. Just "innocent" statements that sting. My old, numb "adopted self" wasn't even phased by this type of disregard. Maybe that is why it took so long to allow myself to wake up ~ because I didn't want to feel.

bee teapot
© Photographer: Gelsomina | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Addition added later: Well, I just went back and read again what I wrote in this post and was taken back by how HARSH it sounded. Especially the part about "guilt-laden, child-greedy adopters". I know it sounds so harsh, but I need to make things clear. Just because my Mom says these things that bring discomfort to me ~ I still love her, and she loves me. We get together at least weekly and talk on the phone almost every day. It makes it hard, sometimes, because I feel like I have to "bite my tongue", in order to "keep peace" and not hurt her, but that is something a lot of families do. I know. It just really hurts and angers me to hear some of the statements that come from her. I'm sure I disappoint her a lot too, and for that I'm sad. But it is just good to be honest somewhere, and here is where I am. Maybe that's wimpy. Maybe not. Not sure.

I'm not implying that every person who adopts a child is "guilt-ridden" or "child-greedy" either ~ but a lot are. Face it. I was mainly just trying to express the fact that adoptees hear a lot of statements about adoption and sometimes we really have to ignore or stuff our feelings, in order not to hurt.

Some adoptees (and many adopted parents, I'm sure) would vehemently disagree, and that's ok. It should be understood that when I write, I'm writing about my OWN feelings, experiences, beliefs, and journey. I know that NO JOURNEY is alike and therefore, not everyone will agree with everything (or even anything) I have to say. That's ok and I understand that. So don't get offended if you don't agree with what I write ~ I'm just writing. Being honest inside, and expressing my own opinions. Hoping to grow and learn - and thankful for the avenue of blogs from whom many I've learned so much and received courage through. I'm not offended by comments that I don't agree with. Sometimes they even crack me up. It's time to stop being afraid to express our feelings and thoughts in order to make others not feel uncomfortable ~ I will talk about what it truly feels like (for me) being adopted, and let others feel the discomfort for once, if necessary. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, and this, in part, is how new ideas, concepts, and truth is birthed for each individual ~ through free-expression.

A blog is a wonderful way to do that. The last thing I want to do is hurt my Mom, because I know what it feels like to be hurt. I try not to hurt her, because I love her. I'm not always successful, but I try. She doesn't even have a computer, so I feel (mostly) safe about talking about these things on here, only because it is a safe way to express, reflect on, and hopefully learn and grow from them. There is so much of my life I don't feel comfortable sharing on here. So much that I haven't processed enough to even be able to write about yet. But it feels good to put some of it down, get it out, and share. Finally.

3 comments:

TheRightThing said...

OMG, I totally understand the little side comments. Lived with them my whole life. I still hate them. Now that I am totally into my birth family's life, I get the comments more often and even from people that I don't know and they think they have an opinion.

TentCamper said...

I found yo through BlogCatalog..searching "adoptee". I found my birthmother this year and finally met her about a month ago. I have posted a lot about it on my blog.
I relate, on lot of levels to "crossing to the other side."
Adoption, divorce, mental illness, kid, etc.

Eve said...

Peach, people can be so ignorant. I think many people are this way, not only adoptive parents. If I had a nickle for every time a stranger asked of our children, "How many of them are your own?" I would be rich by now. We live in a world full of many people who don't bother to try to look at anything from another person's perspective. This is why religion has to teach compassion and love; it's just not normal for us to put ourselves into other people's shoes.

Neither of my grandmothers were infertile or adoptive parents, and they said all the same sorts of things your mother says. They just loved babies. Older women seem to tend to do that. I think maybe you read more into it because you're adopted, or maybe because she's infertile. Or maybe you're correct and she hasn't ever really fully accepted being infertile. How can we know?

I'll tell you this, though; when I was pregnant the last time, a friend of mine who is an adoptive mother and was infertile broke down and cried to me one day, saying, "I'm just so furious to see you pregnant!" She was over 60 years old at the time! Her children were adults. And obviously she had never fully accepted her infertility (if one can; and I'm not trying to say a person can or should; I haven't thought that through). But she was an example of how deep the sorrow and anger can run. So you could well be correct about your mother's motivations.

I get angry when the issues of grandchildren come up. Once when my kids went to visit my parents, my mother made a comment separating the children that way. When my daughters told me about it afterward, I called my mother and told her that if another comment like that every came out of her mouth again to ANY of my children, it would be the last time she saw them. I have zero tolerance for that kind of crap, so I'm with you on that one.

Do you correct your mother when she says these things? What happens if you say, "Mom, when you say blah blah, it sounds like blah blah and it's offensive to people like me," etc.? I know when I confront my parents, no matter how kindly I phrase it, there's always an argument. But I'd rather have a real argument than to enable my parents to keep making ignorant and hurtful comments to my children.