Love and Acceptance

"Give love and unconditional acceptance to those you encounter, and notice what happens.” – Wayne Dyer

The RightThing shared an interesting comment regarding her mother asking her why she loved her.

This would not surprise me at all if a first mother were to ask this of the child she surrendered to adoption.

From my perspective, as a mother, I would indeed find myself surprised if my daughter were to ever say she loved me. (Shoot, I would be surprised if she said she liked me). For me, this surprise is likely rooted in a number of things, the most obvious of which is rejection and abandonment.

When you, as an unwed mother, are rejected and abandoned by all you love (boyfriend, parents, etc.) you find yourself wondering why or how anyone could love you subsequent to that. More importantly, when so many fail you at such a time of need, you are hesitant to trust anything they say going forward. If your own family rejects you, why wouldn’t strangers? Why wouldn’t your child whom you left in the care of those very strangers also reject you?

Furthermore, for many of us, becoming pregnant out of wedlock is deemed such an egregious act that we are certain we will never be loved again. We are dirty, tainted and branded. We are so bad and awful that our child had to be taken from us. We don’t deserve love. We have violated our familial values, our church teaching and threatened the fabric of society. Who loves that? When your own family, the friends and loved ones that KNOW you discard you, why should your child – raised away from you – love you?

Finally, and most importantly, when you learn how horrible adoption is for some adoptees, how much our children can hate us for giving them that so called "better life", why would we ever think they would love us?

When our children are eaten up inside with anger over their adoption and we are believed to be the single root cause of that pain and anger, why would they love us? When they are adopted and abused by those adopters – and we held responsible for putting them in that position – why would they love us?

I do believe it is possible and can and does happen. I can use my own mother as an example.

I love my mother without question. I can share a million wonderful wacky things about her. She is a great grandmother, a good friend to her friends. She is silly and playful. She has a quick wit and a good sense of humor. She has amazing blue eyes. She love to garden. She takes care of my father even when he does not deserve it or abuses her. She makes a good macaroni salad (with tuna). She is a loving godmother to her goddaughter, my cousin Lauren. She has an infectious laugh (it is more like a very loud giggle). She frequently goes without so her children can have things they need.

I can also tell you many things I don’t like about her. I can tell you some awful things she has done to me. I can tell you how she, as noted, abandoned me in my time of greatest need. I can suggest that my learned behavior of being abandoned by my mother taught me it was okay to abandon my own child.

I could go on and on with a mixture of love and angst over my mother.

But in the end, she is my mother. She is human. She may not be the mother I wanted, or the best mother for me, or the mother I dreamed of, but she is my mother.

It is my choice to love my mother. I do it for myself and not for her.

I can choose to live my life in anger and bitterness over what she did to me. I can pick apart her bad, flawed parts. I can tell her that if she does not stop smoking I won’t love her. I can tell her if she does not leave my father I will not be around her. I can give her all sorts of ultimatums intended to make her into the mother I want versus the mother I have.

But I don’t.

I do for her what I would want her to do for me. I can love her unconditionally.

I can love her for all that is good in her and tolerate or manage or work around all that is inherently human and as such, flawed. When she was smoking, I just avoided the topic or her when she was. She knew how I felt about it. No need to beat a dead lung. When she catered to my abusive father, I removed myself from the room or the house so that I did not have to witness it. Again, she knew my thoughts on the matter. Continuing to insist she do what I would do in that situation only managed to upset and offend her and in the end damage our relationship. If I wanted her to respect my decisions and my life, I had to give her the same courtesy.

It is easy to love the wonderful parts of someone. For me, true love manifests itself in loving the ucky stuff.

Can, or should, an adoptee love their mother in reunion? Goodness. I hope so.

I have to believe it. I have to believe for me, for my daughter, for all our future mothers and children.

I hope so.

For what is our other option? To allow the awfulness created by the adoption industry to permeate our lives forever? To allow them to win? To prove them right that the mother child bond means nothing and can be broken without consequence? To let them believe that mommies can be replaced and that our children are mere objects to be bought and sold without recourse or emotion?

I hope not.

5 Thoughts.

  1. Oh Suz, you make me cry. So on target, so what I needed to hear. I love you chica~

  2. I am 40. I met my mother in February.
    I had a truly horrible adoptive family. But, not for one minute did I consider not loving my mother.
    You are right Suz, loving her means we won. It means the people that told her she couldn’t be a mother were wrong. It means the people who told me that I was “lucky” because my adoptive parents gave me a home when I was “unwanted” were wrong. It means that the people who said that any group of strangers was better than my mother were wrong.
    We won.
    I read your blog every day but I have never commented here before. I pray your daughter has a change of heart. She must carry a lot of fear and insecurity with her to act the way she does. Hang in there. No one has to teach a mother to love her child or a child to love her mother. One day she will let go of that fear that is holding her back.

  3. WOW what a beautiful post! I want to fold it up and carry it around in my wallet along with Kim’s comment in response.

  4. I grew up with conditional love — as in, I never felt loved unless I was good, more like perfect, achieving all the things my parents expected. I felt as if I lost their love forever when I got pregnant out of wedlock. The punishment, which I accepted in my plight to regain their love, was the loss of my child.
    No wonder I didn’t get the concept of unconditional love in my relationships (I always felt on the verge of losing love if I was not everything I was supposed to be). Or when I reunited with my son.
    Only then did I learn what that means. I love him unconditionally. I always will. I miss him when we are apart, or not speaking like now. What a challenge, to love him so much and yet have to take a hard line against his abusive behavior.
    A bit like setting boundaries with my mother, which I managed to do despite my fear, and that led to my being able to forgive and accept her. If I hadn’t, I believe I would have been forever haunted after she died.
    I learned that it is possible to forgive, accept, understand and love, even if the other person isn’t involved in that process.

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