Understanding Dead Air

I have a question for mothers in reunion but before I ask it I want to give some context.

Mother registered with adoption registry (ehbabes.com) and provided significant details. I (as founder of ehbabes.com) do not provide all the details publicly. I keep most identifying info to myself (for many reasons, ask if you are curious).  Mother also posted on ehbabes.com annex page on Facebook.  She and I corresponded and she was fairly anxious to find, undertaking an active search. I did not search for her. I gave her tips, suggestions and posted the items we agreed on.

A few months later the ADOPTIVE mother of mother’s child sees the postings. She contacts me and also posts on the Facebook thread. She also finds the mother online and contacts her (via Facebook).   I also emailed the mother and let her know there was a possible match (fairly definite actually)

There is no response to me or the adoptive mother (who is actually jointly searching/contacting with their shared daughter).

Adoptive mother, daughter are stumped, scared, confused, unsure what to do next. Stop reaching out? Try another approach?

I have offered some suggestions and possible reasons for the dead air.  I have also suggested they consider a snail mail letter and photos.  Finally, I also suggested they read a few books on reunion. While adoptive mother and daughter are fairly well read adoption wise, they did need a few pointers on the mother side of things, how reunion can trigger us to long ago inflicted wounds, etc.

My question is to mothers (and anyone else that might want to offer thoughts, adoptees might also have actively searched and then decided against responding).

What might be your reasons for actively searching, then being found as a result of your efforts  and then not answering the reach outs?

Again, I offered many suggestions to my friends but wanted to see if you had something more to offer her. Once I get a few comments I am going to direct them here. Feel free to share your own experience/story.  If it is lengthy, I would even consider a guest post!

Thanks for your consideration. I would like to give this aMom and her daughter more than just my POV. You may validate my statements or even better, you may offer some new thoughts.

23 Thoughts.

  1. I know an adoptee who did this. She started searching and then pulled back once she got closer. It’s a complicated thing, but as she explained it to me, she didn’t realize how scary it was when it was all the theory. She always knew she had a mother out there somewhere. She wanted to meet her in theory. But when she got an address, she freaked out. Until that point, her mother was whoever she wanted her mother to be. She was the perfect woman. Once the address was in hand however, it all became real and the mother became a person with real human flaws who could reject her. So instead my adoptee friend dropped everything and hasn’t looked since then. The fear of who her mother really is as a person is too great for her to actually knock on the door (which ended up being the wrong address anyway). That’s just one take on it.

  2. Could be issue of being contacted by adoptive mother. I would be uncomfortable with initial contact coming from a-mom (if I’m understanding correctly that a-mom made the first contact on Facebook).

    • Maybe – I agree and cautioned my aMom friend about this. She claims it is a joint effort between her and her daughter (who is legal age) and for personal reasons (that i know but for privacy wont share) they decided to handle it this way. I understood but let the aMom know that it MAY have been a turn off for the first mom to be contacted by the AMom and not the daughter.

  3. Have they only been trying to reach her via email and fb? Maybe she doesn’t check her email often? Maybe the fb account is one made up just for the search? When I first signed up on registries, I made an email account just for them. I checked them every day or so for a long time, but as time went on I checked it less and less often. It had probably been at least 6 months since I had checked it when I found the email from the search angel and my son.

    Any other guesses would be maybe something happened in her life ~ An illness or death (herself or someone close to her). Maybe she found a book/blog/website that sent her back into the closet out of fear? Maybe financially she can’t afford internet anymore?

    I agree with the snail mail ~ but it should be from the daughter, not the amom.

  4. I like the idea of snail mail and i don’t think it’s just because I’m now a member of the senior generation. Rather, since snail mail takes a bit longer, it may, to some be a better way to communicate topics that are of a more personal,intimate nature. Additionally, it provides the opportunity to send along a few photos. For sensitive issues, I personally prefer the snail mail, but of course that’s just me.

    • I love snail mail Gail. It seems so much more personal, more real, than our electronic communications. The fact that someone took the time to write, package, mail something to me feels like a gift. How many times over the years I wished my daughter would have sent me something, anything, a card, a photo. Def agree that snail mail is its own special kind of communication. You actually prompted me here for another post. (And thank you for the snail mail you regularly send me!).

  5. If they are sending messages via Facebook and they are not friends, their messages are most likely going into the mailbox marked “other” that most people do not even know they have. That’s where the messages I was sending my son went and he didn’t see them until he went to update the app for his phone. All that time I was freaking out that he wasn’t responding to anything and he hadn’t even received what I had sent him.

    That being said, the closer I get to contact, the more terrified I become. Everything about this scares me, from hearing his voice for the first time to telling his “story” to him. So many questions that revolve around my insecurities regarding him. What if all I can do is sob the first time I hear his voice? What if we have nothing to say? What if I inadvertently say the wrong thing and hurt him? This list goes on and on. The more real this becomes, the more I have to deal with the realities of the decisions that were made and my role in them. It can be a very difficult thing to face. Don’t know what advice to give other than be patient, keep sending things “just because” without pressure or expectations and be ready for whatever comes their way.

    • Laurie – Why did I think you were in contact? I must catch up on your blog. My apologies for connfusing your story. Interesting and very valid point on the facebook message box!

      • I had a message from him on Facebook in Feb. saying that he finally received my messages and had seen the blog I made for him. He promised to send a letter, but hasn’t yet. Back in limbo-land. I just keep posting on his blog, but I’m running out of family members to write about!! Maybe one of these days I’ll get ballsy and just pick up the darn phone!

        • do you have stat tracker on the blog to know if he is even reading it? that would be a good sign i would think. i wanted to do something like that as well for my daughter but again, great idea, but not for her.

  6. I agree with Laurie and just learned this myself. If one tries to write to someone through Facebook that they are not friends with, it goes into a separate file that people have no idea they have.. Even though I’ve helped people search for years, when one of my search angel friends recently told me this, I didn’t believe it and went in to check my own Mailbox under “other”….lo and behold I had 82 messages over the past couple of years that I had never received notification of. Some were from groups but others were from individuals who had tried to contact me through my page and weren’t on my Friends list.

    So that’s a definite possibility. Do you have or can you get this mother’s phone # and call her to get a sense of what could be happening in her life? Perhaps she’s been ill or not online for some other reason? Of course the other thing I would wonder is the adoptive mother being so involved in this….that would be a bit off-putting for me.
    I can not think of anything new that you haven’t other than the obvious reasons everyone else is mentioning. It doesn’t make sense that she would be so enthused and then suddenly shut down.

  7. I think, that sometimes, when something becomes more tangible, more “real”, it can and does petrify us beyond everything imaginable. For so long “we” as first moms, make ourselves believe, that ‘maybe it was not real, maybe there was no pregnancy’…at least I did, maybe it was just a really long nightmare, 24 yrs. of a nightmare. I shut it out so long, that when the day came for me to make contact, I refused the only contact the courts would allow. My twin sons were 24, so why did I have to go through their parents???? I refused to allow their parents to control the reunion. Then after a long few hours, I panicked, I call my C.I., and gave her the approval to contact the boy’s parents. It was of course bitter sweet. The C.I., called me back immediately, and the (parents) decided it would be fine for contact, and the “next time they saw the boys, they would tell them.”
    I was “freaky”, ‘disoriented”, “flabbergasted”, ‘disillusioned”, ‘torn” disappointed, etc., etc.!
    What IF they did not tell the boys, who were now 24 yrs. old? What if the boys wanted nothing to do with me? So many what ifs, yet, in my mind was the “whole ordeal just a figment of my imagination”? I had NOTHING, not a single piece of paper, to say an adoption even took place…who the hell was I, how do I even know these are MY sons?
    Actually when it became clear, that after 3 yrs. of searching, of asking the courts to grant me contact, of writing letters to prove I wasn’t a lunatic….after 24 yrs., what “rights did I have to intrude”? Yip, I can imagine how petrified she may be. “IT’, the huge invisible elephant was about to appear, scared the hell out of me. I shut down for several months, after hearing nothing back from their parents, no consent papers, no nada.
    Then a Search Angel contacted me, told me she could locate them, and no contacted would be needed between their parents and myself. I approved, she emailed all their info, and when I saw them, I immediately knew. I knew they were real, I knew those 2 young men were my sons…I knew it!
    Two things stopped me dead in my tracks.
    1. Their Mom had passed away.
    2. I was petrified!
    However, maybe this first mom, just has not checked in ,knowing that, when she usually does, there is nothing, nada, so why bother, kwim?
    Maybe, though, she is a bit like me, when it comes to not wanting the amom involved;( I hope she reaches out soon! Please, keep us updated, as I know you will;)

  8. So much can happen in a few months. There’s a very good chance that something has changed in the mother’s life. However, it definitely could be that she’s freaked out by the reality. When Soundex called me (after 8 years of waiting and wanting that call), I came unglued. If the kind lady from Soundex hadn’t insisted on a phone call that very evening, I would have waited, tried to collect myself. I would have preferred to write a letter, but she said no, and arranged the call time between us. Now I’m glad she did. I have to agree that the amom being involved is a problem. Regardless of what she and her daughter decided on, she has to get out of the way, especially since the daughter is an adult. I say the daughter should write a snail mail letter, with pictures, and assure her mom that she will patiently wait until she is ready.

  9. I have a question that I thought of when reading this post and I hope you don’t mind me asking here.

    I have had a very strained reunion with my nmom. Over three years ago I found her and all went well for a few months. We decided to meet and I flew to her and stayed with her for a few days. It was tense and awkward. After I left we talked once on the phone and nothing for the past three years. I kind of figured she knew how to get ahold of me. I talk to my nbrother on the phone weekly and they live together so it really isn’t that hard. I figured I reached out to her first and maybe she just wasn’t ready. So last week she called to let me know some stuff about what was going on with my brother and we talked for a little bit about him and not much else. She called again a few hours later and we talked about movies and about her recovery. Then she calls again a few days later, says nothing much and nothing since. So now what? As an adoptee how do I handle this? I want to be in contact with her and to build a relationship but I have felt shut out for years and now I want to tell her so much but I am guarding my heart for fear she walks away again. I am a birthmom too but I have an open adoption and my son is only almost two so this is way out of my league. I do not want to overstep my boundaries and say something hurtful to her but I also want her to know how I feel when she keeps coming and going in the relationship. How do I do this? Any tips? Any ideas how to strengthen our relationship so she also wants to stay engaged? This is so hard and it breaks me down so much every time she just stops contact. I love her, that will never change but it has to be better than this.

    • Elle – Of course you can ask here. However, I am not sure I have much to offer personally since I am in the reverse of your situation Meaning, I am the one who reached out and wants a relationship, but my daughter does not. So in that sense, I relate a bit to your frustration and pain.

      Your mothers situations seems challenged both by adoption trauma and recovery from substance abuse (if I am understanding and remembering correctly). One of those alone is enough to cripple your relationships for a life time let alone being afflicted with both. All I can offer is that she sounds desirous but, like you, tentative, fearful, unsure, etc. Perhaps if you just laid it out for her like you did here – You want a relationship but you need a bit more consistency, some boundaries or rules to be set so you can manage? Chances are she will want the same? It is so hard to be so vulnerable to those we feel have so much power over us however, remember, she only has that power if you give it to her.

      Maybe some other readers will comment here. I can extract your reply if you approve into a post and see if others comment?

  10. I think the fact that she keeps calling for small talk is an indication that she wants to be in contact but perhaps she doesn’t know how. Now that communication has opened again, albeit in this superficial way, you could write to her and say what you said here – that there are things you’d like to say to her, but you’re feeling tentative or whatever… maybe she is just as afraid of rejection or disappointment. Could your brother help to set up another meeting? Some people just don’t know how to have relationships in which deeper feelings are shared. My own birthmother is really not capable of it and after 30 plus years of “reunion” I was able to let it go. We had some years of real intimacy, some years of total estrangement and others of superficial communication. Reunion is a lifelong journey and anything can happen.

  11. Suz if you want you can post it but don’t feel you have too. Thanks for the advice 🙂

    I do have a tracker but I am pretty sure she isn’t Internet savvy. She doesn’t have email, Facebook none of that. I would love for her to read my blog but I don’t know if it would end up pushing her away even more or if it would show her that I truly would love a relationship with her in whatever capacity she could handle. Yes, she is a recovering addict. A year clean she told me. These recent phone conversations are the first time I have ever talked to her sober. So it has definitely been a treat to know she is going to remember these conversations and she is actually saying things not under the influence. I am just afraid if I give her the lowdown on how I feel and how I would like our relationship to be she will shut down and now out. Ugh, this is so hard!!! Lol as I am quite sure you understand unfortunately.

  12. I think Reunion is sacred and first contact should be between the parents of origin and their offspring. I’m uncomfortable with adoptive parents making the first contact, or being present when first parent and child meet. That shocks me, a-rents being present.

    I’m an adult adoptee, in reunion a year and half, and none of my Reunion with either my first mother or first father is any of my adoptive family’s business. My a-mom can’t understand it, she doesn’t want to read the Lifton or the Verrier or the Fessler or anything that would educate her or challenge her notion of that her adopted baby was anything more than a blank slate when I arrived in her home.

    Btw, Elle, I’m going through a very similar situation. I feel for you. My first mother is completely inconsistent with me. Next week is my birthday. She forgot it last year (it would’ve been our first together, reunited) and a couple weeks later she remembered, emailed me a whole set of reasons why she forgot (she was sick I guess?). But that was a year ago, and that was the incident that made me back way off and realize i had to protect myself from her inability to show me love the way I would like her to. And as my birthday is quickly approaching again (in a couple weeks) I am holding my breath wondering will she or won’t she forget this year…But who wants to set themselves up for rejection after rejection?

    In my case, it would be a disaster (FOR ME) if my a-mom meets or even contacts by way of correspondence either of my natural parents. But of course, everyone’s different. This is just my experience, though I 100% stand by the notion that Reunion is a sacred thing, and a-rents have no business there initially. After all, it’s not their reunion. No one severed their primal bond. What are they doing there? Facilitating? Why? If it’s the adoptee

  13. Oh shoot. I pushed “publish” too soon…I wonder where that last sentence was going…?

  14. Yes, I am the queen of “and another thing that makes me angry–wait, what’s that? A shiny object?”

    I’m a magpie. Dont call it ADD!!

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