All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma. – Kazuo Ishiguro
Nic asks some great questions in her recent post. Go read it in its entirety first if you wish. I have linked to it by excerpting the questions below.
Good stuff. Excellent questions. I have no answers. Not really.
Here is the question (linked to her full post)
“How do others of you do this? How do you maintain contact with your children–either in open adoptions or in reunions–and handle the upswell of emotion or the retraumatization that brings–without scarring your other children?”
Her post is timely for me as it is something I have been thinking alot about. Recently, my fiance asked me, in a rather benign way, how I do this. How do I manage this reunion stuff? He meant it in more of a “holy crap how do you function with that much pain and sadness kind of way.” Truthfully, I don’t know. I just do.
Where Nic’s post really got me in the gut is her reference to other children.
My children are scarred by the loss of their sister. They were scarred before they were even born to me for I was scarred. The mother I might have been to them was drastically changed when I surrendered their sister to a baby broker. I had no idea of that at the time, of course, but it is fact.
My children are scarred in at least two ways. First, they have a damaged, less than there, slightly distracted, nearly always sad mother as their mother. Maybe they realize it. Maybe they don’t. They have never known anything but the mother I am. Up until the time I told them about their sister, their life just kinda was. I later scarred them with the truth of their sister and found myself at a complete loss how to explain to them all the details of the situation due to the fact that her side, her voice, her own explanation was missing. I was only guessing. I was avoiding. I have no idea why their sister doesnt want to know them. I cannot speak for her and so I dont. They arent old enough to understand primal wound, or adoptee pyschology or why someones God might tell a mother to abandon her baby to strangers. They dont get it. All they get at their maturity level is they have a sister and they cannot know her and she doesn’t want to know them. So, I shrug my shoulders, ramble something benign (“we cannot know”) and I leave them hanging.
And is that wise? Do I help them or hurt them further in my decision to stay silent and not represent her interests? Early on I talked of her openly, regularly. I have since stopped. It seems, to me, to pour salt into wounds. Where I stand on the soapbox of honesty, they stand below me in utter confusion.
Should I have shielded my sons from this pain? Should I have kept it all to myself?
They lost me and her. Who helps them? Who thought of them in 1986 when the caseworker carried their sister off into the arms of strangers? Who told me to think about my future relationships and my children?
As for handling my triggers (also referenced in Nicoles post), my way of handling them is to hide them. I do the best I can to hold it all in. My eyes hurt from holding back tears, my throat constricts from lumps too large to swallow. I will retreat to a quiet place and cry for hours. I will rock. I will sleep too much. I will suffer insomnia. I will do whatever I have to to shield my sons from further damage. I pretend I am okay.
As for maintaining contact? I still contact my daughter but she does not respond. I do not tell my sons (any more) I am in contact with her. Gone are the days when I said I heard from your sister, or when I showed them pictures or I encouraged them drawing pictures for her. I.just.shut.down. I shut down for me and for them. It is out of our control.
This is done for my benefit and for theirs. Given the state of our reunion, I don’t know what else to do. I don’t want to set false hope. I don’t want to misrepresent. All I can do is swing back and forth between the branches of my broken family tree and tend to one child on the left, another on the right and third somewhere out…there.
What more could I do?