Normalizing a behavior or response is a social processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as “normal” and become taken-for-granted or ‘natural’ in everyday life. In my case, in relation to my reunion, I worked very hard, perhaps too hard, at making the situation “okay” “natural” and “normal”.
I put my daughters pictures out in my home, I openly spoke about her, I gave my sons regular updates on her status and what she was up to (even though those news items came from my creeping on her blog sites and not from her). I tried my best to pretend that I was okay with the situation, i.e,, that my reunion was normal and an everyday matter that every one understood.
Of course, everyone didn’t.
People often found it strange that I would display my daughters pictures. Others became quiet when I would mention something about her. Still others asked direct, often hurtful and probing questions. And yet I carried on with my inward dialogue that it was all good, and it was all understandable, and all typical adoptee psychology. I would regularly quote Verrier, or Lifton, or Burns Robinson in relations to others questions. I would educate them on why what my daughter was doing or how she was reacting to our reunion was “normal”.
And while I was doing all that explaining and all that defending of her and the actions of others, I was quashing my own very really feelings. I was crying in silent, cursing her to myself, wincing at her pictures, stomping my feet and raising my fists – all in the privacy of my own mind. Outwardly, I was good. I was fine. While people raised their eyebrows and snickered over my love of a child that I a) gave away and b) wants nothing to do with me, I tip toed through the emotional mindfields (intentionally spelled that way) and smiled and explained. For to do anything but that was to risk triggering an explosive response that others, and most importantly, I, was not prepared to handle.
It is not normal.
There is no normal in adoption. My reunion is not good, or happy or acceptable. My reunion is not something the average person ever has to deal with and frankly. should they have to, I want them to be able to scream and stomp and FEEL what they feel. I don’t want them to ever pretend that there is anything NORMAL about giving away your child and years later find that child, only to be told to go away. I don’t ever want society to find that to be normal. So why should I perpetuate such nonsense?
If I met another mother, or adoptee, in reunion, I don’t want them to pretend for one second that adoption reunion is normal or worse yet, that their own feelings don’t matter. The industry, the social wreckers and the brokers do that.
Their feelings matter.
And so do mine.
So I ceased that normalizing behavior. I pulled in the reins, I put away the hope along with the pictures. Now when people ask me why my daughter doesn’t want anything to do me or her brothers, I respond with a simple “I don’t really know.” Because that is the truth.
I don’t know.
I no longer make up stories, or fantasize solutions or explanations.
I just let it be.
I let it be…abnormal.
And it actually feels better to let it be what it is rather than pretend it is something that it is not.