“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.
- Year one anniversary found me sending her a present. She accepted it.
- Year two I sent her another present. She refused it and was sure to let me know why.
- Year three went by and I actually forgot about it.
- 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.