The Graduates

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A dear friend has asked me to attend her college graduation. This friend (and she knows who she is as she reads here and will likely comment) was born days before my daughter in the same year only in a different state and surrendered to a different Kurtz agency.

I was touched by her invite to join her graduation. I suspect she has many reasons for doing so. One of the many is that my own daughter will be graduating around the same time frame.  My friend knows how I feel about my daughter’s graduation, how sad I am that I have not heard from her in almost a year.  I suspect my friend, as caring as she is, has a hope that I can live vicariously through her and that somehow my agony over my daughter will be lessened.

In addition to considering my feelings, friend has a hope that her natural mother will also be in attendance and that I can provide support to her mother. Naturally I would do this. I reunited this friend with her mother. I adore them both. I would certainly love to see friend graduate and support her mother during what could be an emotional event.

My challenge?

I am not sure I am strong enough to do this again, particularly two days after my daughters 22nd birthday and a few days before her graduation.

A few years ago I attended my dear friend J’s graduation. She was also in reunion and her mother, my friend M, was invited and flew from her home state of WI to attend.  I gladly drove to Jersey to be with them both. They are amazing women and I am blessed to have them in my life. Naturally I wanted to hold the hand of my friend, the mom, and smile with pride over my friend J, the daughter. Prior to finding M, the mom, J and I adopted each other. While we don’t talk as often as we used to (she has her mom now), she will forever hold a special place in my heart. She walked through those dark days of search and reunion with me. She was the person I called. She was the one looking up college email addresses for me on the day we found where my daughter attended school. She, my dear friend J, was there for me through it all. The calls, the emails, the tears, the joy. J. shared it with me as I had shared her own reunion with her a few months earlier.

Great women. A wonderful mother who gave birth to a wonderful daughter yet memories of that graduation day still make me cry.  It took me a few days to recover.

Adoptive parents of graduating friend were in complete denial about the presence of friend’s mother.  Poor graduate had to run between one side of the crowd to the other. Later, while viewing an art exhibit of friend/the daughter, my friend, the mom, collapses in my arms. It was all too much for her. She was trying so hard to be strong, so hard to be worthy and respectable and proud but it was too much (at least I think so, she may disagree).  Did she look okay? Was her hair okay? Was she speaking intelligently? Was she breathing? Was adoptive mom watching her? Was she too fat? Was her daughter embarassed by her? Was her make up running?

True to my nature, her pain and agony became mine. I wanted it. I wanted to take it from her. I wanted her to be able to BE on that day. To enjoy her daughter and her daughters accomplishment and not be slayed by adoption trauma. 

I failed.

I couldn’t do it.

As she broke down in my arms, I did the same. Her daughter, at that time (and in many ways still today) was my daughter too.  Her pain was my pain. I couldn’t be strong for her when all I wanted to do was grab her, curl up into a ball and cry with her.  I wanted to march over to those adoptive parents, stomp my feet, raise my fist to the sky and demand they acknowledge my friend, demand they allow her to join the family and stop making our shared daughter act like a ping pong ball.

I did no such thing. I just stood there, held her and emotionally bled with her.

As a result of that experience, I am afraid I wont be much value to my friend during her upcoming graduation.I am afraid I will dissociate, be lost, air headed, snippy. I get that way when I am under emotional duress. There was once a time when I could stay in my higher thinking place and could be all smarty and cold and "just fine".  Those days are gone. These days I cry. I shake. I hyperventilate and have all out panic attacks.  I moan and groan and want to reach out and hold my baby girl.

I suspect the last thing my friend wants is me flipping out at her graduation.

I have to think more about it.

7 Thoughts.

  1. I think the best thing you could do is show her a copy of this post so she will know exactly what this brings up for you. If she is a compassionate friend, I am sure she will do the right thing.

  2. i had an inkling you were feeling like that. Suz, you already know what I’m going to say. I LOVE you and i would LOVE to have you there, but that is completely irrelevant. Think about you, and do what’s best for you. I would never want to cause you more difficulty and pain.
    You can yell at my adoptive parents any day, any time though. I don’t really care what occasion you’d be interrupting. 🙂

  3. Amazing it was only 2 years ago that you were with me at my graduation. I believe you are strong enough, but it’s still your option to go or not.
    I was just thinking about your daughter as she shares her b-day with my amom… and Graduation from graduate school is two days prior to that day.
    Brings up a lot! despite the arents, I remember the day well, loved and supported by the people I wanted around.

  4. To the end of my days I will never, ever understand a-parent denial of their children’s first family. There is a selfishness in that behavior that is completely incompatible with proclamations of love for their children. It simply does not compute for me. I would have wanted to stomp on them too, Suz.
    As you make this decision, please make it with YOU in mind. You are supportive to every single person that you encounter, but being that supportive can also suck you dry. Be good to yourself.

  5. Hats off to Robin for understanding. And hey, Robin, congratulations on your graduation!!! Know that you are beloved among us moms. We’ll all be there with you in spirit.
    Suz, I ditto what everyone else said: take care of yourself. Clearly, Robin understands. You too are beloved amongst us. I applaud your insight and honesty.
    This situation reminds me of something I’ve always dreaded. Being there for friends who adopt. Like a close friend’s daughter, who almost did, but finally got pregnant, and then didn’t. I feared having to be there for her, watch the process, pretend to be excited for her, keep my mouth shut, not unravel and curl up into a ball. I won’t know what to do… hopefully I’ll never have to find out.

  6. I couldn’t find an e-mail for you, so I hope you don’t mind me posting this here.
    It does relate to the loss of our children to adoption.
    A well known Canadian program called the
    “Fifth Estate” is looking for victims of
    “Dead” baby scams to make a program about it.
    If you were told that your baby died at or shortly after birth, and then you found out (or suspect) that your child was put up for adoption instead, please contact them (Details below).
    Also, if you are an adoptee who was told by your (bio) parents that they thought you had died at birth, please contact them.
    If anyone else has information about this, please let them know.
    I have given them quite a bit of info (I have found a number of cases but it would help if they could find more information/evidence).
    Here are the contact details.
    Nicole Brewster-Mercury
    Associate Producer
    CBC Television-fifth estate
    (416) 205-6637
    Many thanks for listening.
    Cathy – reunited mother

  7. I find myself wondering how this experience (running back and forth from one parent to the other) compares to that of the child of divorced parents who will not speak. My father refused to come to my wedding because his ex-wife (not my mom but my younger brother and sister’s mom) was going to be there. He would not attend their confirmation for the same reason. They will graduate high school in only two years, will he attend? Who knows. If he does, will they have to run back and forth between him and their mom. Where will I wind up? He is my father, she was my step-mom most of my childhood. My son calls her “Abuela” we are close. I do not know if the pain is the same, but I imagine it is at least comparable. The pain and hurt when one parent can not bring themselves to come to grips with their own crap is in intense. UGH!!
    Suz, take care of yourself. No matter what you do that time will be difficult. I am sorry for the pain you are going through. I hope that you can find your way through it all.

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