Repetition Compulsion

"Love can be put off, never abandoned." – Propertius Sextus

A friend told me of another friend who had recently been “re-abandoned” by her mother in reunion. I don’t know the mother and child in question and I don’t know specifics of their situation but I did find the terminology and the reference to the situation interesting.

I found myself wondering if what happened is that the mother had pulled back in reunion? I don’t know. I don’t really want to know the details of their story, whoever, they are, but I am concerned that pull back may be construed by our children as “re-abandoning” them. I say this because I am in the midst of a pull back myself and it makes me wonder what my daughter might feel as a result. Will she care? Will she even notice? Do I tell her I am doing that?

What do our children expect us to do when their behavior or that of their adoptive parents or anyone else for that matter becomes so hurtful to us that it triggers our fight or flight response? If your child does not have the emotional capacity to discuss their feelings with you in a mature manner, what do you do? If they continue to attack you or outright ignore you, what do you do?

What should we do when our children don’t answer emails for years, refuse gifts that we send? That would seem like they want us to go away, no? 

There is a school of thought (that I tend to agree with) that our children will test us so that we prove to them we really love them. The same school of thought insists that once in reunion parents can never leave – no matter what they do or say to us.  Doing so is taken as abandonment again. I agree with that too.


Does this mean that mother just sit around and tolerate any abuse, neglect or worse that the child throws our way?

In a parent/child relationship that has not been traumatized by adoption there are some sort of rules. Mother or Father has some degree of influence and respect in the relationship and the child understands this. Communication styles are familiar. Tone of voice is understood. Words are familiar. There is a modicum of understanding in the relationship.

Adoption annihilates this.

In many cases our children have no respect for us. No matter our intent, what was done to us, all their adoption anger and rage is our fault. Abused by an adoptive parent? That is our fault. We put them in that situation. Not able to form intimate relationships? Our fault. Their first intimate relationship left them abandoned. We are to blame for things we aren’t even aware of.  (Can one fix what they did not break?)

Many of us have email only relationships with our children. How does one gauge tone of voice and intent through email? Some people are better writers than others. How does that come into play?

How does one handle this?

It is my belief that my daughter wants some sort of relationship with me but is currently not emotionally equipped or supported in any way to pursue that. Be it emotional, physical, etc. something is lacking in her life right now and she is unable to deal with the onslaught of emotions that this situation creates.  I believe, perhaps erroneously, at this point in her life she is better off without me. I don’t believe there is anything I can do or say to help her. I have to wait. I have to tell her repeatedly (and I have) that I am there. That her feelings are okay and that I won’t ever leave her again (and that I never wanted to in the first place).

Beyond that, I don’t believe there is anything I can do.  I am not helping her with my contact. I am hurting her. She likely gets into a rhythm where I don’t exist and she can get on without thinking about me and then BAM here is another email from me. I don’t want to be disrupting her life. I want to be enhancing it. I don’t believe I am.

So, I am coming to the conclusion that once maybe twice a year correspondence would be best for her. A card at Christmas. Maybe congratulation when she graduates college in the Spring.

Yet even as I ponder that I think of those strangers that “re-abandon” their child again.

Will my lessening contact and ceasing gifts be interpreted that way?

How the hell am I to know if she doesn’t tell me?

4 Thoughts.

  1. Suz, you are in an impossible situation and I am so sorry. I don’t know you, but even I can see how much you love your daughter just by reading your words.
    I hope someday she will be able to let you in.
    Friendly lurker…

  2. Suz: Thanks for not shutting me up yet. I love to read your blog and you have so much love to give.
    I am not a lurker, I feel the same way that you do. Fact is, there is nothing more you can do. Send all the letters, cards, etc. if you choose to try to keep some form of communication open. When you get a nasty note saying F off then you can go away.
    I have a friend who never legally signed the
    papers for her daughter. She lived with another family. 25 years up to now, she calls her mother “sometimes” goes away for a few years, calls again and goes away again. And thats their pattern. You take what you can get.

  3. I just wanted to let you know I am listening. I recently started reading your blog regularly and you are so vulnerable, that it seems wrong to just lurk. It sounds to me like you are coming from a place of love and doing your best to meet her needs in whatever way she can let you. What more can a mom offer?

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