"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." – The Dalai Lama
One of the wisest things my friend K, an adoptee, ever said to me was that I should never expect my daughter and/or our reunion to â€œfixâ€ me. K further went on to state that my healing was my responsibility and not that of my daughters.
I never really thought or felt that it was my daughters â€œjobâ€ to â€œfixâ€ me or even that reunion would make it all better. It doesnâ€™t. It canâ€™t. You can never get back what was lost. Reunion doesnâ€™t lessen the loss â€“ it changes it.
Having K say that to me in the way she did really touched me. She was very right and very wise for her young years.
I have kept that thought and Kâ€™s voice in mind throughout the two years of my cyber reunion with my daughter.
I work hard at keeping my â€œcrapâ€ out of the relationship with my daughter. I donâ€™t want her burdened with my pain. She is not responsible for my happiness. Sure, she contributes to it inadvertently but it is not her job to fix me. She is not on this earth to make my life better. She is here to experience her own life. My job as her mother – to the extent she allows me – is to help her make that life as fullfing, rewarding and happy as possible. She is not responsible for my emotions.
I write and another valuable adoptee taught lesson comes to mind.
That is, adoptees often feel responsible for their adoptive mothers happiness. Why wouldnâ€™t they? They were adopted to make her happy right? To make a broken woman feel whole? To help her pursue her believed destiny of being a mother? They were the solution to the infertility problem? The human Band-Aid?
I also hear that when some adoptees talk with their adoptive parents about search, first families, the adoptive mothers will cry, invalidate and make the adoptee feel badly for feeling what they feel.
If by any stretch my daughter ever felt this, I would NEVER want to compound it.
Children, in my opinion, are never responsible for their parents or their parents feelings. I realize in many families that gets messed up and the children end up being the parents or parenting the parents. Even worse, the childrenâ€™s needs are neglected and they must parent themselves.
Again, a lesson learned from my own childhood helps me. I always felt burdened by my mother. She had a bad marriage, and overwhelming life trying to raise four children, working full time, manage a gross lack of funds, and an alcoholic husband. She often and I mean OFTEN said her kids were her only source of happiness.
Guh. I hated hearing that. I hated being the only thing in my motherâ€™s life that made her happy. I simply did not want the burden. I wanted to be a kid. Good, bad, make mistakes, learn, cry, be angry, be a normal kid. But I always felt like I had to be superdeeduper good because if I wasnâ€™t, Mom would be sad. (Interestingly, I was the child that was the most difficult for my mother to handle).
This lead to me keeping things from her and never sharing my feelings. She couldnâ€™t handle them. They might make her cry. They might make her sad. She had enough sadness and tears in her life. I wasnâ€™t going to contribute to it.
But what about me? What about my very valid normal childhood feelings? What did I do with those if I could not talk to my mom about them?
Flip that very personal situation into an adoptee â€“ possibly my daughter. What if she feels responsible for her amoms feelings? What if she feels she must be PERFECT so the broken woman can be kept happy? What if she feels she can NEVER share her feelings with people because they will cry or be sad? What if she feels she must perform spectacularly in all areas so she can prove she was worth the purchase price?
I have no idea if this is true at all. However, I realize itâ€™s possible and as such its something I must be sensitive too.
She is not responsible for me.