“Hope is not a single thing. It is more of a sliding scale that ranges across a scale from virtual certainty to utter desperation. It can range within a single conversation across this whole spectrum. You can raise a person’s hope, dash it on the rocks of uncertainty, raise it out of the waters and toss it around until the other person will grasp at whatever straw you throw at them.” – changingminds.org
I recently reconnected with an old blogger/first mom friend via Facebook. Via private message she updated me on her relationship with her son and she inquired about my reunion. I let her know where I stood as I approach nearly five years in some kind of reunion.
Her last message to me said only this:
“Do you still hold out hope?”
I have not responded to her because to be perfectly honest, I don’t know how to answer that question.
I guess most would say “yes” and perhaps I do, but true to my nature I had to think about it a little more. Her rather benign question made me think far beyond what she likely intended.
What is hope and what does it mean to hold out hope in a reunion?
Changingminds.org defines hope as:
“Hope happens when someone sees something, decides that it is desirable, realizes that they may not get it, but believes that there is still a chance of getting it. To put it tersely, though perhaps in a complex way, hope is expectation moderated by probabilistic estimation of a desired event.”
Translated for me and my situation, I see reunion, I see meeting and getting to know my daughter as desirable and have realized that to date I have not gotten that. Do I still believe there is a chance? How can I answer that without any input from her? With no correspondence? Based on events of past few years I say no, there appears to be no chance. Yet inside me is this conflicting desire, this, well, hope. This unrelenting feeling that someday my child will want to know me and her brothers. Someday she will be interested, strong enough, caring enough, [insert her own word here] to know me.
Robert Louis Stevenson said ‘It is better to travel hopefully than arrive’. Stevenson implies, to me, that having reunion hope can be pleasant in itself. I can occupy myself with dreams and fantasies of coffee shops, and discussions of literature and hair coloring and hearing her laugh, being in her presence,of watching my sons face beam with love when they finally get to meet their only sister. Those are fabulous fantasies and I can be lost in them for hours. However, my reunion hope is often tinged with the very real fear that I will not be permitted to know my daughter, and also that even if I am permitted to, it will not be as perfect as my fantasy.
Should I have hope? Do I really want to know what waits for me there or is it better to be in my fanciful state? Or better yet, is it preferable to have no hope at all?
I know that I will always welcome her and I will forever miss and want to know her but I believe to have “hope” I need some sort of feedback from her. I have none. While she has not said “I never want to know you or meet you” (and once, four years ago said “I don’t want to meet yet”) she hasn’t said she does want to. To complicate things further for me, her lack of response and acceptance of gifts, is, to me, a very passive aggressive way of saying “I don’t want to meet you or know you and now would you please leave me alone”. That might be her true feeling that she is unable to express and yet it might be my own insecurity and fears speaking to me. How can i possibly know when I only know the feelings and thoughts of one person to the relationship? Mine.
My research shows me that there are three types of hope:
Desperate hope is when a deep need is felt. Someone who is desperate will do almost anything to satisfy the hope (with ‘almost anything’ being in proportion to the level of desperation).
Whereas desperate hope often has a negative connotation, optimistic hope is often positive. In both cases, the probability of achieving the hoped-for thing can be very variable, often sitting at a very low probability of occurring.
Realistic hope is based on a fair estimation of probabilities. Thus, if something is over (say) 50% likely, then I might realistically hope that it will happen.
Oddly, I struggle to find myself even here. I have seen many mothers and adoptees in desperation. They do crazy, outlandish things with the hope that the other party will finally respond to them. They show up at doorsteps unannounced, they stalk, they call, they write letters to adoptive parents or siblings. They rail on the interet on blogs. They flood email boxes with messages. They purchase and present massive amounts of gifts. That has never been me (and yet I wonder if that worked against me?)
Optimism? Hmm. Maybe. But again, based on knowledge of my own feelings not with any input from my daughter.
Realistic? How would one even estimate a reunion meeting probability? I would foster a guess that someone somewhere has indeed quoted some statistics on the # of reunions that happen, the # that succeed and the # that fail. But how could I use that data to formulate my own estimate?
So I am leaning towards feeling I have very little hope. I am trying my best to be a realist given the information I have. I am trying to protect myself and my sons and my life from further desecration.
And while doing all that I hold onto this fantasy that someday I will get to hear my daughters voice.
Yeah, that’s contradictory. I know.
I hope you understand.