Sitting with Friends

I feel sad today.

Putting aside the obvious reason (PMS, work, overwhelmed with life, struggling with classes), I feel as if I am failing a friend.

Years ago I used to have wise words for my adoption friends. I was able to help them with searches, direct them to support networks, suggest books for them to read. We shared our experiences and mutual and not so mutual pain.

These days, while the experience and pain may be similar, our reunions (or lack thereof) have gone in wildly different directions (none good). I no longer know what to say, I am at a loss for suggestions of books or support networks. Generally I shrug (alone to myself as our conversations are most often digital) and say “I don’t know what to say”.

I feel sad for them.

At times, I feel badly about the help I gave them in their searches as I worry I contributed, at least in part, to the situation they are now in. I wanted to do no harm. I was helping (or so I thought). Other times, I realize they could have, and most likely would have, gone on without me. It would not have mattered if I did not help them. They would have helped themselves or found someone else who would. It has nothing to do with me.

Yet, with that realization, I still find myself left wanting more. I want more for them. They are great moms. Great young men and women (adoptee friends). I want to offer them more. They deserve more, better, different. What can I offer? What? I do not know. More false hope? What really can I say?

  • What do I say to a friend whose daughter wants nothing to do with her but everything to do with the rest of her family? What do you say to her when she sees pictures of her daughter with her family at events she was never invited to?
  • How do I soothe the pain of a friend who found out she is now a grandmother via Facebook? She talked with her son just the day before but he failed to mention his wife had given birth. She never even knew daughter in law was pregnant.
  • Or what about the friend who found out her child is pregnant months after everyone else (including me) found out. (I thought she knew…)
  • What do I say to my adoptee friend whose mother is well, less than a mother and certainly nowhere near the fantasy the adoptee had of her? What do I say when she says “I wish you were my mother.”
  • How do I comfort the friend whose son, after years of a really close reunion, suddenly and without provocation goes a bit off the rails and calls friend all sorts of incredibly mean and nasty things and then emails the steaming pile of nasty to her entire family.
  • What to tell a friend when I want to tell her to run away from nasty child as fast as she can yet I know she cannot and will not – no matter the level of abuse her child foists upon her.

I suppose, for now, all I can offer is to sit there with them. Tell them I care about them and if they were with me I would hug them and cry with them.

Maybe that is all they really want.

I hope so.

Reality is, it is all I can offer.

“I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving
to hide it or fade it
or fix it.”

Oriah Mountain Dreamer – The Invitation

7 Thoughts.

  1. You are enough. Just being there is enough. I have taken steps back from other people affected by adoption as each other’s pain gets reflected back on one another. Please remember that you deserve you to be there for your self. Love & hugs

  2. You are a good friend, Suz. I’m sorry the pain of others burdens you, but that you care so much is a big part of what makes you such a good friend and beautiful person. Please take care of yourself. <3

  3. I’ve had to do the same thing Suz… back off because I know that in spite of the fact that I’ve helped to facilitate dozens of reunions, I still don’t have all the answers about how to have a meaningful relationship with a found family member. I’ve also had to let it go for myself, because I grew weary of wallowing in the sadness of knowing that my relationship with Steve whom I found when he was 21; will never be what I had hoped for. And I suppose not what he had hoped for (if he even gave it any thought) …. we’re all just walking each other home and sometimes it’s a short walk that we share with another on their journey. Everyone I have encountered and even felt extremely connected to at some point over the 25+ years I’ve been involved in the adoption world, was apparently not meant to be in my life forever. And I know now that’s ok.

  4. Good morning, Suz,
    I’m sorry that you’re feeling sad and I’m hoping that today is better for you. Adoption is like Humpty Dumpty. Putting back the pieces is truly an impossible task which is the stark reality. Please know that you’ve made a positive difference in my life when I was struggling to keep my head above water with all the adoption trauma and relationship fallout. The dark times are behind me now. You’re one really special person and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to cross paths with you.

    • Thank you Gail. It is all so hard. To see such good people, people I care about (both moms and adoptees) do such awful things to each other, to be so mean, so hurtful, to be so incapable of dealing with their anger and hurt more productively. I hurt for them all.

  5. I hope you don’t punish yourself like this ever again. You are a good person with good motives. You helped me when I asked you and you let me go when I didn’t want to. You did all the right things. You only had good intentions. You were a resource I needed. Your story scared me, but showed me what possibly lay ahead. It was a touch-stone I eventually needed.

    As I reflect on my failed reunion with my daughter – I remind myself that all relationships are subject to fail. I have tried and failed to relate to, understand and maintain healthy relationships with my immediate (biological) family members. I clawed and gripped with all my might to keep my family close even though our relationships were horribly defective for years. We were all so damaged by unexpected deaths, psychological/verbal abuse and abandonment. I have finally accepted I do not have to maintain these relationships at the expense of my mental health. I realize that even when families are kept intact, the relationships can still fail. I look at my friends who are facing insurmountable trials raising their children and realize that my relationship with my daughter, if I had raised her, could have wound up right here – obliterated.

    Or, maybe I’m just consoling myself – trying to justify why I feel so unfairly judged and poorly treated.

    I’m sorry I put this scar on myself. I’m sorry I wasn’t better informed, but who knows where my alternate choices would have lead; maybe a greater sorrow and more painful situation? It’s all speculation.

    • Thanks for your sentiment Hilary. I agree – mostly. All about relationships and how hard they are (adoption related or not). I see so many of my friends (moms like you) who are such truly incredible, caring, decent women who want nothing more than to know their child, to be part of their life, to be RESPECTED and SEEN as a human being, and yet they aren’t. It makes me so sad. Yet, in a twisted way (and may be this is me consoling myself) I am glad my daughter believes I don’t exist. Being ignored/avoided/told you are dead is somehow better (to me) than to be treated so harshly (as some of my mom or adoptee friends have been).

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