The Spouse Factor : Vol 1

“Most people never feel secure because they are always worried that they will lose their job, lose the money they already have, lose their spouse, lose their health, and so on. The only true security in life comes from knowing that every single day you are improving yourself in some way, that you are increasing the caliber of who you are and that you are valuable to your company, your friends, and your family.” – Anthony Robbins

Second Chance Mother is gathering research for an article she wishes to write on the impact of reunion on spouses and siblings.

This is a topic I know a great deal about and I offered to blog for her and also publicize her efforts. So before, I begin, go here and check out her intent. Submit your story to her, leave a comment, whatever you are comfortable with.

My adoption reunion had a significant (read humongous mongo gargantuan) affect on my spouse and by relation – my marriage. It also  contributed greatly to my divorce.

I want to be clear that my daughter is not responsible for this in any way. She has a tendency, as some adoptees do, to think everything is her fault. She has in the past assumed my pain and trauma was her fault for if she was never born I would never have felt this or experience the horror I did. I can see her logic but it is blatantly wrong.  Her birth did not cause my pain – her adoption did. She had nothing to do with that. I will never allow her to take ownership of any of my feelings. I have told her repeatedly I worked hard to own them and I demand she allow me to keep them.  However, due to her propensity to take the blame, I want to make it very clear that she is NOT to blame when I say that my reunion with her contributed to my divorce.

I believe my ex husband and I were mutually and equally responsible for the divorce. He brought his baggage, I brought mine.  Fifty percent of the problems were mine and  at least 25% of that 50 were rooted in adoption trauma and reunion.

Some of that fifty I could have changed. Some I did. I spent less time on the computer. I tried to cook him dinner more often. I tried to talk more often. I tried to accept his constant travel and my children crying for daddy. There were things I could have changed if I wanted to.  There were things I could have accepted.

There were some I could not and would not.

And those things were anything related to my daughter and my reunion.   I had changed enough for people where she was concerned. It had to stop.

My ex husband indirectly and at times directly asked me to not be so open with my adoption experience.  I refused. That was his issue. Not mine. I refused to hide anymore.  The embarrassment of others contributed to the loss of my daughter. It was time for me to stop the insanity. And so I did. When my husband came home from work irate that a coworker googled me and found out my scarlett letter status I said "So?".  I think he expected me to suck his toes and beg for forgiveness, to apologize for who I was. I refused.

My reunion took a great deal of time away from the family. My searching, my eventual reunion and constant attachment to the computer annoyed my husband. As I awaited every little scrap of my daughters life to be sent over cyberspace, he stood behind me disgusted that I had rarely, if ever, put that amount of gusto into caring for him. He reminded me I had a family to care for and children to raise. I reminded him my daughter was my family and was my child.

When we found her (and he was instrumental in this) he asked me with a broad smile  if I was finally "over it" and would I now get on with my life. I was not over it and and while I would get on with my life it would not be the life we once lead.

Due to feeling utterly misunderstood and judged, I kept a great deal from my husband. It was safer that way. Exposing my feelings usually lead to them being dismissed and shutdown.  I kept it all inside or within the safety of my online support group and email friends.

Hubby resented this greatly (rightly so).  He tried in his own strange ways to get involved and understand but they always backfired.  He once attended an Adoption Crossroads support meeting with me in Manhattan. To me this was huge, I was opening myself up to him, introducing him to my world and my friends in same.  He was cold, distant and at the meeting refused to even sit with me. That did not bode well for us.

When all attempts to get closer to me, to understand, failed him, my husband secretly installed key logging software on our home computer. Every email conversation I had, everything I did online was being logged and mailed to him without my knowledge.

Yeah, this became a problem too.

Those of us who know the horror of adoption trauma, the emotional angst, and what it is like to live with PTSD flasbhacks and anxiety are likely to jump quickly to my defense and point out the horror of his actions. You might even call him an asshole.  (Lord knows I did)

Don’t.

Try and look at it from his perspective.   He was collateral damage to my daughters adoption.  An unexpected victim in the war against me and mothers like me to get our children.  He married me thinking that (and stating such) my adoption experience was no big deal.  I let him think that. I wanted to think that myself. 

He had NO idea what this meant to him, to us, to our family. There was not a single resource available to him (and we both looked for it). NO support groups just for spouses of natural parents, no books by Verrier or Lifton or Robinson. To compound the problem, the situation as he lived it, was very triggering to his own childhood. My ex husband spent 18 years of his life with a terminally ill sibling. She got all the attention in the family (for obvious reasons). He was ignored. His basic needs were cared for but all the family love and attention went to his sister who was dying of CF. Imagine growing up, marrying a woman and have her devote all of her attention to someone else?

Furthermore, most men I know are inherently "fixers" and not talkers. I believe my husband saw my pain (pain he did not cause) and felt he was supposed to be able to fix it.  I have often thought his long trip to Jersey to get my daughters year book photos were his attempt at making things all better (from a guys point of view).  They did not get better.  Like his sister before me, I was not cured. I was still ill. He could not save me just like he could not save her.

I do believe his intentions were good but the way he executed them cut wounds so deep into our marriage that we could not recover.  (Add to it there were many other things wrong as well).

In my next post I will attempt to allude to how reuniting with my daughters father also contributed to my marriage demise. This is a sensitive subject as it dictates the filtering of my words to protect my daughter, her father and others.  However, I believe strongly that others need to know the impact of reuniting with our children’s fathers (or mothers) can have on us. I hope I can find the words.

Those wounds are still very raw.

3 Thoughts.

  1. “There was not a single resource available to him (and we both looked for it). NO support groups just for spouses of natural parents, no books by Verrier or Lifton or Robinson.”
    I see the real need for a book here.

  2. Susan – I completely agree. Spouses of alchoholics have Al-Anon, adult children have ACOA, there are groups for those battling terminal illness, drug addiction, research to support those with any number of conflicts – where does a spouse go for support in dealing with his spouses adoption trauma – particularly when the trauma is rarely acknowledged? The grief is disenfranchised and people are shocked that anyone would struggle with adoption? A spouse I know attempted to find support was told that their spouse (the adoption affected one) should be grateful their child was adopted and that the issues must be all in their head (and thereby proving that they were unfit to raise their child).

  3. As usual, your honesty and eloquence in expressing it astound me. Thanks for the plug for my research. This is bigger than I initially thought. The impact on us, the players — the moms, dads, relinquished children — is obvious. But the effects on our loved ones, spouses, other children, everyone who is through no doing of their own ended up whacked by adoption. Who knew? Someone should have. But now we do. Hopefully some support for them will surface.
    My marriage didn’t break up, but sometimes I wonder how it didn’t with all that my husband had to endure, and still does from time to time.

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