"In the future, instead of striving to be right at a high cost, it will be more appropriate to be flexible and plural at a lower cost. If you cannot accurately predict the future then you must flexibly be prepared to deal with various possible futures.” – Edward de Bono

My ex-husband was a volunteer firefighter for most of our marriage. Our free time was regularly interrupted by fire calls, false alarms, emergency water rescues, burning latex foam factories and the occasional storm watch.

Storm watches required him to spend many hours at the firehouse in preparation for any possible fallout from a storm. He would leave me alone with our son only after he had given me the run down on the emergency supplies in our own home and what I should do in case of emergency. While many would find this sweet and caring, I usually found it comical. I often teased him.

My ex husband was incredibly over prepared. I swear he was expecting the Apocalypse for our basement was filled with water, food, blankets, light sources, heat sources, and even those pills you take  in the event you have been exposed to radiation. Before he left our home for the station, I was required to follow a drill that assured him I knew where to go, what to do in the case of various emergencies (tornado, hurricane, flood, terrorism, etc.). It was cute at first, sweet even, but after the tenth or so drill it gets annoying and eventually ridiculous.

I would joke with my mother about this and while she agreed my husband went a bit overboard she noted that in the event something did happen, we would likely survive in pretty decent shape compared to other unprepared neighbors.

I thought of that preparation today when I read a comment on the blog of a friend. She is recently in reunion and while it is going very well (her son found her) she is struggling with how little preparation she had. She had no idea he might find her (although she always hoped he would) and now that he has she worries she is not performing as she should. She is worried she is sad when she should be happy. Angry when she should be relieved. Depressed when she should be joyous. Her final statement was that she wished she had been more prepared and had done more healing before he found her.

An anonymous commenter responded by saying that no amount of preparing or alleged healing would have made any difference.

I had to completely disagree.

While I continue to challenge and question what it means to "heal" from adoption, I do believe there are things we can do to prepare ourselves or minimize the pain reunion can cause us.

Prior to actually finding my daughter I invested a great deal of time in reading about adoption, trauma, primal wound, reunion and much more. I joined support groups. I attended conferences. I lurked on forums and ingested every morsel of insight. I devoured information on PTSD. I became obsessed with ethics. I entered therapy (again) and finally began to really address the greatest pain of my life – becoming pregnant by a man I loved, being sent away and eventually losing my daughter to a broker despite my desire to the contrary.

Personally, for me, I do believe all this work prepared me for reunion and minimized some of the challenges associated with same. While I could never have been fully prepared, I do believe that it was of great help and I encourage all moms I know who are considering searching to read, talk, share, interact as much as they can with other adoption torched indivduals prior to finding their child.

While I am confident I have made mistakes in my reunion, I am more confident I would have made many more had I not been somewhat prepared in advance.

Unequivocally I can state that my advanced preparation for reunion allowed me to see that when my daughter rejects ME it is not ME as a person she is rejecting (she doesn’t even know me). Rather, it is the agony, confusion, painful feelings, trauma, primal wound and such that she is avoiding. I am merely the physical manifestation of that pain. Since I believe there is much to be hurt and angry and confused by in adoption, I don’t take her rejection as much to heart as I might have if I could not make that distinction. Since adoption loss, for mothers, carries so much rejection (rejected by our boyfriends, rejected and discarded by our families, our churches, the agencies and society as whole by removing our names from birth certificates) it can extremely difficult to keep anger and pain associated with the first rejection separate from a possible rejection by our child. How easy it could be to let loose a tidal wave of rage on our children once we find them! How awful it would be to do so. It is not their fault. They were the ultimate victims in this game of adoption.

So, to my friend, while you feel you were not adequately prepared for reunion, I dare  counter your commenter. You could have been, to some degree. But don’t be discouraged.You still can be.

The beauty of learning is that it can be done at any time. Start today. I can point you to a great list of books, some forums, and other useful supporting items.

Oh, and  if you are ever in need of twenty Coleman lamps, fifty-two boxes of water and food supplies, forty blankets, sixty-seven potassium iodine pills, feel free to contact me.

2 Thoughts.

  1. Love this post, Suz. As a Californian for most of my life and having been through a couple of sizable earthquakes, I know that AFTER something happens is when most people get prepared… for the next time. I too went into the emotional earthquake of reunion unprepared. No books, no support groups, nothing, because I didn’t know they even existed until a year in and finally, out of sheer desperation, I sought help. I made huge mistakes, but fewer in the long run because of my work, however belated. It is indeed never too late.

  2. Whatever we went through is not their burden to bear and so we need support and an outlet to deal with that.
    In most of the reunions I know about after the initial meeting the child retired to a room and slept for a very long time.
    I think it is very hard to prepare for the emotional wallop of meeting face to face, mother and child, for the very first time.

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