"The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can ever endâ€ – Benjamin Disraeli
When I think of them, I think how much I can relate to most of what they say. Even though they are men, I get what they feel, what they fear, how it causes such struggles in their life.
Three of them. One in the north east, another in the south and still another in the Midwest. All natural fathers. All married with subsequent children. None of them married their childâ€™s mother. All were barred from contact with the mother during her pregnancy. In all cases, the mothersâ€™ parents whisked the pregnant girlfriend away and no further contact was made with the fathers.
Men went on with their lives and married other women and had other children.
And they were still in love with their girlfriends.
Reunion brought not only the challenges and emotional highs of reuniting with their lost children, but also their lost loves. How do you separate the threads, the emotions? Can you?
Can we say lack of closure?
Can we think for one second how damaging and problematic this can be to the second love (now wife) and the marriage as a whole?
Two of the three men I speak of ended up having affairs with their former loves. The third isolated himself from his child and the childâ€™s mom because he just â€œcould not handle itâ€. Instead of speaking that, he projected his own discomfort onto this wife and blamed her for the lack of connection and reunion with his child.
Situations like this make me expel my unusually loud adoption sigh. I know this challenge. I know what it is like to reunite with your childâ€™s parent and have your spouse go bananas about this. I know the aching desire to talk, to clarify, to heal even when it is against the wishes of a threatened spouse.
I donâ€™t believe sticking oneâ€™s head in the sand is the correct approach. But hey, thatâ€™s me.
Emotions, particularly those that have been festered and hidden and denied for many years, have to go somewhere. If they are not expressed they can manifest themselves in other ways. Misplaced anger towards a spouse or child, substance abuse problems, over or under eating, or other self destructive behaviors. They can even be passed to a subsequent generation (assuming you are a follower of Hellinger, family constellations and unresolved pain being passed from one generation to the next).
The agency that sold my daughter told her aparents told her aparents that their money was going towards me and counseling for me. This makes me laugh even today.
There was no such counseling.
Had it been provided it should have covered items such as:
- Suicidal ideation after surrender
- Life long depression and anxiety
- How to deal with family members who treat you like a pariah
- How to have more children in the future and not be plagued with flashbacks to the loss of the first
- How to tell others about your experience without scaring them off by the first few words
- Problems with intimacy, bonding, and attaching to others after surrender
- How to accept the fact that adoption can damage your child, cause a dual identity, anger, hostility and worse.
- How to manage the possibility that searching for and finding the lost child may lead to being treated like a pariah â€“ yet again – only this time by your child.
- And of course, dealing with the loss of not only our child but the childâ€™s other parent
Challenging reunions with former loves is not limited to natural fathers. In fact, I would guess itâ€™s much more prevalent with natural mothers but not many of us talk about it. I know many of my friends who have pondered searching for their childâ€™s father. I always, always, urge a great deal of caution. I ask them to explore why they want to reconnect, what they hope to gain, who are they doing it for (really), how involved is their spouse, and much more. If they want to know why, I always share my own story (which I can share privately with anyone interested).
Reunion is hard enough without ripping off every single scab on your heart all at the same time. Do it one at a time. Or donâ€™t do it all.
Some wounds may not heal a second time around.