Unintended Victims

I have discussed the concept of collateral damage in adoption several times on my blog. My experience highlights that my sons are collateral damage to the surrender of their sister to adoption. I use the term collateral damage as the military does. Specifically, that it is damage that is unintended or incidental to the intended outcome. In the military sense, a targeted action is directed to a specific victim or resource but someone or something unexpected happens to be in the line of fire.

My oldest son has expressed what I perceive to be evidence of his personal collateral damage experience. He has asked me, on more than one occasion, why his sister doesn’t want to know him. He seems to understand why she might be mad at me or at my mother, his and her grandparents. Yet him? He is befuddled. He did not even exist when she was born.   He has directly asked me “What did I do to her, Ma?”  Needless to say, my heart cracks a bit each time he expresses this.

What did he do, exactly? Have the misfortune of being born to a mother who gave away her first born? Express a desire to know his half sister? Find her to be beautiful? Find that she reminds him of his mother? Find that he cares for a sibling he was not raised with but desperately wants to know?  Why should he feel obligated to comfort his mother for feelings provoked by his sister?

I have no answers for him.  Years ago (see normalizing) I would try to give age appropriate explanations of adoptee psychology. It was crap. It was me trying to explain the unexplainable. Trying to make the insane seem sane and the cruel seem kind. I don’t do that anymore. Now, when he asks, I simply respond with “I don’t know why your sister doesn’t want to know you”.  For that is the only truth I do know. I do not know. Only she does. He deserves an explanation from her not a made up wild ass guess from me.

Jenna has been talking about this collateral damage surfacing in her own home, in her open adoption. My heart aches for her too. And for her little guys who are dealing with this younger than my sons did in a completely different way – they see and KNOW their sister via an open adoption.  Jenna could use some hugs and loving. Feel free to send here or here.

For mothers who read here, that are in reunion and had subsequent children, would you consider sharing evidence of collateral damage in your family? How have you handled it? How have your children done so?

Equally, if not more important, were you told at the time of surrender that future children would be effected?

ETA: The links in the first paragraph take you to some of my older posts where I discuss collateral damage in my home. You can also use the Categories pull down on the right of this screen and select Collateral Damage.

..and you mess with me.

“You threaten my son, you threaten me.” – Sandra Bullock, as Leigh Anne Touhy in The Blind Side

My daughter:

My daughter has a troll on her blog leaving nasty comments.   I want to kick that person’s nasty troll ass. At the very least,  I want to sign them up to receive massive amounts of spam.  Of course, like most trolls, they arent leaving their emails or blog site. 

(Yes, I still visit my daughters blog even if I am not permitted to comment. And being unoffiically banned from commenting doesn’t ban me from feeling protective and defensive of her when she is faced with nasty trolls).

My son:

Yesterday my sons regular school bus driver was ill and there was a substitute. The substitute missed my sons bus stop on the way home and my son realized this when he was many miles off course.  Son texted with my fiance and me and expressed concern.  After a fair amount of agitation was experienced by all, bus driver got my son home safely.  My last text message to my son said “Glad you are home safe. You must be upset. That would be frightening.” My son responds by stating “I am fine mom. You don’t need to worry about me.”. I responded by stating “I will always worry about you.  Mess with my kid and you mess with me”.

Same is true for the troll on my daughters blog. I feel like putting that troll on the lost bus to nowhere.

Mess with my kids and you mess with me.

Letting Go

As I started to picture the trees in the storm, the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the storm don’t try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go. Those trees and those branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break. Now is not the time for you to be strong, Julia, or you, too, will break. — Julia Butterfly Hill

Denise is correct in her statement that I am in the process of letting go of things. Items on the list include a few hopes, dreams, aspirations and quite a few control freak tendencies.

For example, the most recent thing I have let go of and found myself feeling quite refreshed and lightened for doing so is the overwhelming need to control who contacts my daughter, what they say to her, what she says to them, and all other related ridiculous obsessions.

Let me explain.

I found my daughter 4.5 years ago. I shared her photos with a few, news items about her with a few more, but her name, contact details and location with NO ONE. 

I routinely shared certain emails my daughter sent to me with my mother or my younger sister. They were usually the nicer emails. The hurtful angry ones I kept to myself. (Keep that fact in mind). When sharing, I would always strip off the email address and identifying details.

My belief, at that time, was that I was protecting her and indirectly all those that came in contact with her. I was terrified that a) my family would say something hugely moronic and incredibly insensitive to her and that would ruin our chances of reunion and b) she would say something hugely moronic and incredibly hurtful to them and they would think badly of her and by extension, me, once again.

For example, immediately after finding my daughter my nieces (who are a few years younger than my daughter) were thrilled and got all excited and gooey about seeing her, meeting her, learning about her. One of my nieces (who bares the same name as my daughters amended name) friended my daughter on myspace after I shared (regrettably) the link with niece. 

Daughter ignored my niece. Niece was quite upset and offended. “But we are family! Why wont she even friend me on myspace? Is she stuck up? What is her problem?” she whined in her then 15-year-old voice.  Niece knew nothing of adoption trauma, adoptee psychology, etc. For her, to her, it was a simple as “we are family”. If only.

I was intensely conflicted.  I was angry at my niece and hollered at her. Emotions ravaged my body. On one hand I felt protective of my niece who was (and still is) a wonderful young lady who wanted nothing more than to know her cousin.  On the other hand, I was enraged at this same young niece fearing she may have upset my daughter. I was terrified daughter would be angry at me for sharing the link to her myspace site. Angry at niece. Angry at Daughter. Terrified of the actions of all. Feeling the need to protect everyone from everyone else so that I could live in some fairy land of a reunion. Feeling the need to control everything. Feeling the need to believe that what I did in reunion would make a difference to my daughter, as if I really had some influence. Ha.

It was a frantic state of being.

I was, in essence, trying to control everyone’s feelings and wanting everyone to be happy and loving as if doing so was some sort of insurance policy that guaranteed a good reunion.

Ha again. (You can laugh here too).

No doubt I was disillusioned about many things in early reunion.  No doubt I still am about many other things.  However, one thing that has become painfully clear to me is that I am not responsible for my daughters behavior, manners, likes, and dislikes nor am I responsible for my mothers, sisters, nieces, or anyone elses behavior.

I am only responsible for mine.

As we approach nearly five years in a reunion that is not really a reunion but more like a “finding”, my family no longer asks for her information. It is rare for anyone to even ask about her. I suspect strongly they are still recovering from my earlier policing activities and keyboard slappings. They know that their inquiries will either make me burst into tears and/or they will be shut off, down and out and not granted access.  Today they would be wrong. While I still get choked up when someone asks about my daughter, I am no longer choking them when they do.

I have let that need go. Controlling it clearly had little effect on my reunion. It did not make it better. It did not seem to make it worse.  Why am I continuing to freak out about this?

Whatever will be will be.

Oh, I am not about to go run and give them the info and tell them to contact her or rappel off roofs in Brooklyn to spy on her. However, should they ask again in the future, I am no longer holding back. They are her cousins, grandmothers, aunts, etc.  They have an existence/relationship with my daughter that is separate from me.  They are responsible for their own actions as my daughter is responsible for hers.

And I am responsible for mine.