Happy (?) Anniversary

“An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow. ” ~Author Unknown

Today is the four year anniversary of finding my daughter.

  1. Year one anniversary found me sending her a present. She accepted it.
  2. Year two I sent her another present. She refused it and  was sure to let me know why.
  3. Year three went by and I actually forgot about it.
  4. Year four is here and I remember.

I have mixed feelings on it all. Part of me believes I did the right thing in finding her – for her. Even though she may feel differently, I do believe I did the right thing. She knows where I am. She knows how to contact me. She knows she was always wanted. She knows her medical history and extended family is hers for the asking. She has much much more than many adoptees do.

Where I question if I did the wrong thing is when I think about myself.

My life did not improve – per se – when I found her. My life took a huge turn for the worse and I found myself undergoing the most intensive therapy imaginable. My already weak marriage suffered an enormous blow due to my reunion.  We eventually divorced.  I am confident if you ask my ex husband he will say my adoption “stuff” ruined our marraige. My sons were negatively effected. Four years later I still cry daily.

It is not lost on me that my feelings might be different if my reunion had been different. If my daughter had been capable of knowing me, I might feel differently. I simply cannot know.

What I do know that since reunion I think more about me, my needs, my rights, my hurts and less about everyone else. In doing so, I find myself routinely questioning if reunion was the right thing — for me. what if I hadn’t found her? Would my marriage have survived? Would my son be paying homage to his missing sister in his school art projects? Would she have ever contacted me? Should I have left ‘well enough” alone? (For as it turned out, she had already found me when she was 16, she just never contacted me).  Again, things I cannot know but do wonder aout.

My pre-reunion state, while laced heavily with anxiety and denial, was somehow better for me. Yes, less authentic but better. Kind of. I think.

Perhaps that is why I understand my daughters choices. Perhaps she is protecting herself in a way I should have protected myself. Again, I don’t know.

I went into reunion overly educated on the mechanics of it and the adoptee perspective. I read Lifton, Burns Robinson, Soll, Verrier and more. All about HER and what she MIGHT be feeling. I did little to no reading on my own trauma and how I might feel.  I was prepared for what she might feel. I was prepared to rationalise, justify, understand, explain, forgive HER feelings. I had no preparation for my own.  No where did I read how to handle the rejection, the reigniting of my trauma, the flashbacks, the nightmares, the depression, the anxiety, the unrelenting agony that my soul felt when faced with pictures of a child I birthed, lost, found and yet still could touch or talk to. No on told me how it would feel for my daughter, like those before her, to put her parents feelings and needs above my own. Verrier and Lifton could not educate me on how to look into the dimpled face of my youngest son and tell him why his sister doesnt want to know him. I knew the educated adult answer but how do you explain that to a six year old?

Would I recommend searching to another mother? I am a bit ashamed to say I really dont know. While I do believe our children have a right to their information, I also believe equally so, we have a right to our sanity and to make the best of our already tortured lives. We have a right to think about ourselves as well as our children. That may sound as if I am in favor of closed records. I am not. However, some days I do lean towards passive registries. On all days, I lean towards the need for more research, therapy and resources for mothers in reunion.  Many adoptees will tell you it is all about them. I dont know how any relationship can be healthy when it centers around the needs of only one party to the relationship.  It is about mothers too.

At a minimum I would recommend mothers give serious advanced thought and discussion, ideally therapy, on how you are going to handle the possible repercussions of reunion. For even though the texts will say our children may reject us due to loyalty, primal wound, etc. rarely does it say how we will feel when that happens. Not sure a text can even adequately describe that.

Finding your child may mean losing you ( or what little you have left of you since the first loss).  Approach with caution.

Trauma objects in the mirror may be closer and larger than they appear.

14 Thoughts.

  1. Hmmmm…
    Thought provoking post. I foolishly tried to make it all about my daughter, even though I was not prepared or educated. I didn’t want to be selfish. But I have to learn to take better care of myself before I am of any help to anyone else.

    We’ve got plenty of material to work with here, don’t we?

  2. I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this pain, but I’m always so impressed how clearly you can talk about it. But it sucks.

  3. Once again a very thought provoking post. You are not alone, I to have been grappling with many of the feelings and emotions that you mention here.

    This piece made me cry …. too close to home.

    No where did I read how to handle the rejection, the reigniting of my trauma, the flashbacks, the nightmares, the depression, the anxiety, the unrelenting agony that my soul felt when faced with pictures of a child I birthed, lost, found and yet still could touch or talk to.

    HUGS to your Suz you ALWAYS do the best that you can do and NO ONE can ask for more.

  4. It’s just all so hard. So very very hard.

    I continue to be amazed at your insights into the process, and the honesty you share here. Huge (((((((hugs))))))) to you, a couple of days late, but truly heartfelt.

  5. I cannot tell you enough what reading your words mean to me, as a mother who lost her child to adoption and has dealt with a very tumultuous “reunion” less than six month ago. Thank you, is all I can say…

  6. All so very true and very well expressed. Only one who has gone through it has any idea how excruciating it is. I hope today is a good day.

  7. I hear you and send you hugs.

    I know that without the community I found online – mothers and adoptees – I would not be surviving my reunion. I went into it cold, my son found me, and I had zero idea about adoption. I had so buried myself for all those years.

    I do know that he found me when he was 23 and chose not to pursue that information because of loyalty to his afamily. He says he wasn’t ready so I think that might be true in many cases.

    He did not tr to find me again until after his afather passed away. (What a shame that we lost so many more years.) Now our connection is more important than those issues and he is determined to make everyone ok with our blended family.

  8. Suz, your post is very powerful one. My son found me two years ago and although we have continuing contact and are working toward getting to know each other, it is still hard. It is great to be in community with people who ‘get it.’ I am glad he found me but sometimes I long for the oblivion of ‘before’ when all this pain was stuffed inside.

    Thank you for posting from the heart.

  9. Phew! Much to ponder here…

    As you know, I’ve been in reunion more than 13 years. With a son instead of a daughter, and I do believe that makes a difference. Things were fab in the beginning, or so it seemed, probably not so much, more like I was oblivious. I went in totally uneducated on the issues of both sides… just wanted to see my son again and for him to know his roots if he was interested. Like you, I made it all about him, while burying my own needs and feelings. Our situations are very different, and yet I encourage you at this point to take care of yourself, embrace your own journey, because you can’t resolve her issues or change her, as you well know. Don’t go as long as I did, fretting about something over which you have no control.

    Would I do it again? Yes. Although I wish I’d gone in with more information about what might happen. Would I encourage other mothers to search? Yes. If that is their choice. Because every reunion is different, dependent upon the players involved. I would however advise them to get into a support group or therapy with an adoption-knowledgeable therapist or at least read about reunion beforehand.

    I was clueless and that caused me more angst than I might have had.

    Hugs to you. I get what you’re faced with. XO D.

  10. Another *ditto* Suz. Maybe it is time for a book that talks about the rejection feels to mothers. It certainly seems to be similar in a lot of reunion situations. Not saying you should write it, though I do feel that you are an excellent writer and could do the subject justice, I am saying that I agree; it is about us too, as much as the experts seem to make it all about our kids. I guess we are just suppose to give up every last piece of ourselves, I can not. I will not.

    Hugs on your Anniversay.

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