Forcing Truth

An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

"Your daughter may need you to come forward with the details of the coercion before she believes that you love her and wanted her — otherwise her feelings of rejection and anger may be a permanent rift between you." wrote Cedar in an earlier comment.

The comment made me ponder something I have often thought about. That is, should you share something with a person that has given clear indications they don’t want to know it.

If a mother is presented with an adoptee who clearly, firmly, repeatedly says "I don’t want to know the details of what happened to you. I don’t want to know why I was abandoned. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW" should you tell them anyway?

My personal belief is that you should not. It is tantamount to telling someone something you know will hurt them only to make yourself feel better.

I realize this gets grey and fuzzy and confusing and is entirely dependent upon the individuals involved. I further realize that many adoptees feel they have the right to push their mothers into telling their story no matter what it does to the mothers psyche and where it might send her emotionally – even a full psychotic breakdown.

For me, for my daughter, for anyone struggling with trauma, I feel I must respect their position whether or not I agree with it. Even if I know they are wrong. I choose to believe that others might hang onto certain positions as a way to protect themselves. I can influence them gently with my own behaviors and perspectives on things but I will not demand they listen to me or think like I do.

A parallel story is from my own therapy. A few months ago I revealed something to my therapist that I had been intentionally holding back. It was the elephant in the room. I felt it every session and I worked around it and did my best to avoid any reference to it. There is no doubt in my mind that my therapist knew, suspected, or felt that this issue was there but he did not push me. He built our relationship and let me go at my own pace. When I felt safe enough to share that item with him, I did. It was critical to my own psyche and our relationship that I come to that place on my own. He stood there, week by week, consistent, assuring me, talking with me, building a trust that eventually lead me to sharing and for us, an improved therapeutic relationship. I can now explore other dark hallways with him. I know he won’t push me. I know he won’t judge me.

I could be completely off base. I could be channeling too much of my own experience. For me, I felt tremendously pressured to surrender my child. I did what others wanted me to do for their comfort and to meet their own needs. I sold my own soul. I lost my voice. It was terribly damaging to my emotional makeup to be forcibly pushed to do something agaisnt my better judgement. I really don’t want to ever do that to my own child.

In summary, I agree with Cedars point but feel I must do this at my and my daughters pace – most importantly – hers. I have offered the details, been willing to share them.  She doesn’t want to know.

What can I do? My only thought is that I must continue to reassure her I am here, stay steady and on course and be open. I can only pray with time she will appreciate that, respect it, and eventually feel comfortable enough to talk openly with me.

15 Thoughts.

  1. I absolutely agree with you Suz, that answers should only be given to questions. There is no way to know when or if someonelse is prepared to hear the Cold Hard Truth. I waited patiently for my son to ask me “Why”? And I am so very glad that I did, I knew he was emotionally prepared to hear the truth. I walk around all day long, every day, afraid to say anything that might hurt him in anyway (after all have I not already hurt him enough?)and if I thought for a minute that I had told him something that was causing him distress because he wasn’t ready for it, I would be destroyed all over again. I wait everyday to tell him things, his voice changes and I can hear pensiveness in his voice and I know that something is coming and then he asks. Usually precipitated with the phrase “I have something kind of personal to ask you…” I have told him many times that my reality is his reality and really there are no personal questions. I believe it gets easier as time goes on, but the absolute terror of hurting him and losing him all over again never, ever seems to abate.
    Be Well,
    Denise

  2. I’m a big fan of respecting No, including “don’t wanna know”.
    I also hope she’ll ask you for the information someday, or read your blog in full instead if she wants to get the information that way. But yeah: that’s her call to make, IMO.

  3. “What can I do? My only thought is that I must continue to reassure her I am here, stay steady and on course and be open. I can only pray with time she will appreciate that, respect it, and eventually feel comfortable enough to talk openly with me.”
    I so admire you! I believe in time she will come around…
    Hugs & Love,
    Kristy

  4. Yes, I can totally understand that, Suz. My perspective is so different, being an adoptive parent so what I do as far as telling the truth is very different — there’s no way I wouldn’t tell Nate he’s adopted, but that’s totally different.
    I think you’re handling things exactly the right way.

  5. I think all you can do is go step by step, day by day. There’s no roadmap for this, no perfect examples to follow. Going with your gut, following your conscience is the very best you can do – and you’re definitely doing that.

  6. Not telling adoptees the true circumstances of their births and surrenders is called lying.
    This whole problem started with a lie, didn’t it?
    If she asks you should tell her. If she is somehow devastated by the fact that you loved and wanted her, then that problem would appear to lie with her adoptive parents.
    There is nothing wrong with or invalidating about being loved by as many people as possible

  7. As an adoptive parent of a beautiful now twenty-two year old young woman, I believed then and still, that all adoptive parents have an obligation – what I consider rules to abide by.
    Realizing that some, not all, will refuse these obligations for what I believe is due to a lack of confidence in parenting. These obligations are all child’s RIGHTS. My husband and I have always been TOTALLY honest and up-front about everything we knew about her natural/birth parents and her heritage.
    So, I say IF all adoptive parents would be totally open and honest – they would be lessening the burdens on all adopted children, by telling them the truths and reasons why they were given, or forced to be given up at birth.
    I believe in most cases the children would then feel more comfortable and less comprehensive about meeting their natural/birth parents. Plus make it easier on the parents not having these fears that most have – making reunions happier ones.

  8. I think your totally right Suz. When I say no I mean no. That goes for anything.
    Think about how ridiculous it would be if I said no i don’t want to sleep with someone and by some magical something or other they knew that I did so they kept pushing…. that sure as hell wouldn’t get me to sleep with them or to understand where they were coming from. It wouldn’t help me see it their way.
    Now if perchance it was a situation were over time we built up a relationship, things might change but not on the other person’s time. A person can only go at their own pace. Over time you can in you own way come to an understanding of another person but pushing them isn’t going to make it better. There’s the potential to hurt things.
    No means no! When people are direct, trust what they say.
    I know this wasn’t an adoption related example but I think it drives the point home that if someone says no you wait until they choose to say okay and that is not by any means saying lie to them or withhold what they do want. not one bit

  9. I think if there is communication it should be honest.
    If there has been a request for no communication I think that needs to be respected.
    You cannot force someone to have a relationship with you whether or not that decision is based on valid considerations or not.
    It must be very hard to think your birth was very traumatic for your mother.

  10. Speaking from experience, I would agree with you. I had a few questions for my mother when we first reunited, but none of them were “please tell me how you were forced to give me up”. Growing up as an adoptee, no one EVER said that my mother was forced to give me up. I was told she had a choice and her choice was that she didn’t want me. So if she would have told me that she was forced to give me up and didn’t have a choice, then I would have thought she was trying to play on my sympathy and it was all about her. I would think that she didn’t care about me and my life, that she only cared about what happened to her.
    Only recently, 18 years after we met, did I start wanting to know her story and am willing to listen to it and understand it.
    Your daughter is having to process a lot of stuff right now with her relationship with you and all the lies she has been told and sort them out. Unfortuantely, she is doing this without you and you are the key to sorting this all out.

  11. I believe in RESPECTING each other’s bounderies and bounderies can change.To say or imply ” I wan’t what I want and I want it when I want” it just doesn’t fly well with me.I think both adopted persons and Moms have had their bounderies often times stepped on ,if not crushed, when growing up so let’s not do that to each other.
    I think it is Ok to ask another person how they feel about knowing more and if it is “No than RESPECT that.I also think it is Ok to say “If you ever change your mind or want to gain ,,some imformation let me know.Than drop it! Books for instance on adoption loss could be offered.
    I also believe that the best way to get answers is first to gain the other persons trust. And Without judgement would help a lot ,because as a Mom I can guarantee you that I will be listening and watching very closely for reactions. I learned to do it in my family and I do it well.They are defenses and I prefer to not have to use them ,so being kind can help so that I don’t need them.I believe there are many others like me.
    Have a truth filled day!

  12. Honesty is always the best policy, IMO. But timing is also a consideration. I know women who conceived children through rape and then relinquished. Add sensitivity to the mix. In my first conversation with my son, I told him that I was engaged to his father. He heaved a sigh of relief and said “Oh good, you were in love.” What if that hadn’t been the case?
    I think it is important for your daughter to know, whether she wants to hear it or not, that you didn’t CHOOSE to give her up, that she was not unwanted. Which you have already communicated. Details beyond that can wait.
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, she is SO YOUNG. Her attitude and desire to know will change. And there you will be. Open, honest, and as wonderful as you have always been. It might take a while but someday she WILL appreciate you.

  13. You can’t force another person to hear what they don’t want to hear. Be as honest as possible but still respecting her boundaries, as well as your own. Not always easy all the time!

  14. oh where oh where has my little suz gone, oh where oh where can she be… lol
    Missing my daily enlightenment that you provide…
    Hugs girlie 🙂

  15. Hi Suz,
    Im not sure if I fully understood the question..and Ive been pondering on my response..And maybe I view being adopted totally different to your daughter..in fact based on whats written on your blog Id say thats a given 🙂 So I would have to say for me personally I would want it *got through to me* no matter how…I’d want to know that my mother was coerced / forced into giving me up..rather than believing/knowing that she abandoned me..but that there in lies the difference you were forced/coerced My mother was not..she was prepared, if the Social Worker didnt take me, to hand me over to a stranger in a bank..thats how much I was not wanted..so you see maybe I see it through different eyes to your daughter but I would very much want to know that information that you hold in your heart… I would want to be told…….
    Dependant on the time frame involved, and if its been a long time…..maybe I’d say whats the worst that can happen ? that she doesnt want a relationship with you after shes told ? Well its that way now isnt it ?
    I’d tell her. Id let her know how heartbroken you were.
    ITS NOT YOUR FAULT Suz………….

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